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J Family Med Prim Care. 2013 Jul;2(3):277-82. doi: 10.4103/2249-4863.120765.

Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in South Asians: Lessons from a Secondary Analysis of a UK Qualitative Study.

Author information

1
Primary Care Centre, Institute of Population Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK ; Lecturer in Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
2
Primary Care Centre, Institute of Population Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK ; National School for Primary Care Research, University of Manchester, Manchester, England.
3
National School for Primary Care Research, University of Manchester, Manchester, England ; Research Institute, Primary Care and Health Sciences, Keele University, Staffordshire, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalitis (CFS/ME) is rarely diagnosed in South Asia (SA), although the symptoms of this condition are seen in the population. Lessons from UK based South Asian, Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities may be of value in identifying barriers to diagnosis of CFS/ME in SA.

OBJECTIVES:

To explore why CFS/ME may not be commonly diagnosed in SA.

SETTINGS AND DESIGN:

A secondary analysis of qualitative data on the diagnosis and management of CFS/ME in BME people of predominantly South Asian origin in the UK using 27 semi-structured qualitative interviews with people with CFE/ME, carers, general practitioners (GPs), and community leaders.

RESULTS:

CFS/ME is seen among the BME communities in the UK. People from BME communities in the UK can present to healthcare practitioners with vague physical complaints and they can hold a biomedical model of illness. Patients found it useful to have a label of CFS/ME although some GPs felt it to be a negative label. Access to healthcare can be limited by GPs reluctance to diagnose CFS/ME, their lack of knowledge and patients negative experiences. Cultural aspects among BME patients in the UK also act as a barrier to the diagnosis of CFS/ME.

CONCLUSION:

Cultural values and practices influence the diagnosis of CFS/ME in BME communities. The variations in the perceptions around CFS/ME among patients, carers, and health professionals may pose challenges in diagnosing CFS/ME in SA as well. Raising awareness of CFS/ME would improve the diagnosis and management of patients with CFS/ME in SA.

KEYWORDS:

Access to care; Asian/Black and ethnic minority; chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalitis; primary care

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