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Clin Infect Dis. 1994 Jan;18 Suppl 1:S11-5.

A comparison of case definitions of chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


We compared three case definitions of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) applied to patients followed in CFS clinics at two institutions. All patients had debilitating fatigue without apparent etiology; patients with medical conditions associated with chronic fatigue and with major psychiatric disorders were stratified and presented separately. Patients were classified according to whether they met case definitions developed by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Working Group, a British group, or an Australian group. When findings for 805 patients followed at the two clinics were combined, 61% met the CDC criteria, 55% met the British criteria, and 56% met the Australian criteria; these proportions were relatively similar at both sites. In addition, similar laboratory abnormalities were found for all case groups and for fatigued patients who met none of the three case definitions. These data suggest that more inclusive case definitions may be superior.

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