Prevalence and treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and co-morbid severe health anxiety.
Daniels J., Parker H., Salkovskis PM.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a debilitating condition that affects 0.2-0.4% of the population. Health focussed anxiety is common across medical conditions, and may be relevant in CFS/ME. This study sought to identify the prevalence and impact of health anxiety (HA) in CFS/ME and evaluate the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for HA in CFS/ME. Cross-sectional questionnaire methods and case-series design were used to achieve study aims. Analysis indicated that 41.9% of the CFS/ME clinic sample experienced threshold levels of health anxiety, which was associated with elevated symptom severity across several dimensions. Stepwise multiple regression indicated physical functioning and depression accounted for 23.8% of variance in fatigue; depression, fatigue and HA, accounted for 32.9% of variance in physical functioning. Large effect sizes and clinically significant changes were generated in the treatment study. HA is common in CFS/ME and likely to exacerbate fatigue and physical functioning. This study identifies HA as an important target for treatment, trial findings should be further replicated on a larger scale.