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Regional distribution of fatiguing illnesses in the United States: a pilot study
  • Published Date:
    Feb 4 2004
  • Source:
    Popul Health Metr. 2004; 2:1.
Filetype[PDF - 242.90 KB]


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  • Description:
    Background

    Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating illness with no known cause or effective therapy. Population-based epidemiologic data on CFS prevalence are critical to put CFS in a realistic context for public health officials and others responsible for allocating resources.

    Methods

    We conducted a pilot random-digit-dialing survey to estimate the prevalence of fatiguing illnesses in different geographic regions and in urban and rural populations of the United States. This report focuses on 884 of 7,317 respondents 18 to 69 years old. Fatigued (440) and randomly selected non-fatigued (444) respondents completed telephone questionnaires concerning fatigue, other symptoms, and medical history.

    Results

    We estimated 12,186 per 100,000 persons 18 to 69 years of age suffered from fatigue lasting for at least 6 months (chronic fatigue), and 1,197 per 100,000 described an illness that, though lacking clinical evaluation, met criteria for CFS (CFS-like). Chronic fatigue and CFS-like illness were more common in rural than in urban populations, although the differences were not significant. The prevalence of these fatiguing illnesses did not differ meaningfully among the four regions surveyed, and no significant geographic trends were observed.

    Conclusions

    This investigation estimated that nearly 2.2 million American adults suffer from CFS-like illness. The study also suggested the need to focus future investigations of fatigue on populations with lower incomes and less education. There was no evidence for regional differences in the occurrence of fatiguing illnesses.