AHRQ review of disability and chronic fatigue syndrome - Clinical Briefs - Agency for Healthcare Res

Author: Carrie Morantz, Brian Torrey
Date: Sept 1, 2003

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has issued results of a systematic review that provides the Social Security Administration with information to evaluate disability in persons with chronic fatigue syndrome. The report is available online at www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcsums/cfsdissum.htm.

AHRQ reviewed 53 eligible studies of 4,558 adult patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Quantitative syntheses were not possible because of insufficient and inconsistent reporting and results. The evidence supported the following conclusions:

* Some patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have discrete cognitive or affective impairments on neuropsychologic tests, but these results are not consistent, nor can causality associated with decreased employment rates be inferred.

* Depression was the only impairment that appeared to be consistently associated with disability or work outcomes.

* No specific interventions were proved effective in restoring a patient's ability to work.

* No specific patient characteristics have been defined that can predict positive employment outcomes in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

* It is important to compare the patient's level of functioning at the time of diagnosis with his or her level of functioning prior to the onset of illness, especially as it relates to work, school, social, and home activities.

The AHRQ concludes that more studies are needed to better assess and evaluate disability in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

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