A Cross Cultural Comparison of Disability and Symptomatology Associated with CFS


Zdunek M, Jason LA, Evans M, Janice R, Newton JL


Center for Community Research, DePaul University, Chicago, USA; Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


Few studies have compared symptomatology and functional differences experienced by patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) across cultures. The current study compared patients with CFS from the United States (US) to those from the United Kingdom (UK) across areas of functioning, symptomatology, and illness onset characteristics. Individuals in each sample met criteria for CFS as defined by Fukuda et al. (1994). These samples were compared on two measures of disability and impairment, the DePaul Symptom Questionnarie (DSQ) and the Medical outcomes study 36-item short-form health survey (SF-36). Results revealed that the UK sample was significantly more impaired in terms of mental health and role emotional functioning, as well as specific symptoms of pain, neurocognitive difficulties, and immune manifestations. In addition, the UK sample was more likely to be working rather than on disability. Individuals in the US sample reported more difficulties falling asleep, more frequently reported experiencing a sudden illness onset (within 24 hours), and more often reported that the cause of illness was primarily due to physical causes. These findings suggest that there may be important differences in illness characteristics across individuals with CFS in the US and the UK, and this has implications for the comparability of research findings across these two countries.


Zdunek et al, Int J Psychol Behav Sci, 2015; 5(2):98-107


The authors appreciate the financial assistance provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and ME Research UK.

Comment by ME Research UK

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