chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis: are both conditions on the same continuum?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Overlap exists between several functional somatic illnesses like chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), multiple chemical sensitivity and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Recently, researchers suggest that these entities are due to similar mechanisms with possible differences in symptom clusters. For instance, post-exertional malaise and impairment of memory and attention are essential for the ME criteria but are not required in the CFS criteria although symptom clusters only differ in severity.
This study compares 26 ME patients and 41 CFS patients regarding cognitive problems and functionality using standardized objective test batteries instead of self-reported measures. Should no distinct features emerge, then ME could merge in the continuum 'CFS'.
No differences were found regarding functional status although ME patients reported more general fatigue. ME patients have more attention problems whereas CFS patients show more memory difficulties and a slower reaction time. Our results do not fully support the research criteria for ME.
These differences could be more helpful in delineating a continuum instead of supporting distinct conditions. More importantly, our results do not suggest that a continuum is present in which subsets could be placed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-204
Number of pages16
JournalNorth American Journal of Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • me
  • cfs
  • continuum
  • screening

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