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Vol. 71, No. 4, 2002
Issue release date: July–August 2002

Daily Hassles Reported by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Patients in Tertiary Care: A Controlled Quantitative and Qualitative Study

van Houdenhove B. · Neerinckx E. · Onghena P. · Vingerhoets A. · Lysens R. · Vertommen H.
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Background: This study aimed at providing insight in the frequency, emotional impact and nature of daily hassles, experienced by patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and/or fibromyalgia (FM), compared with patients with a chronic organic disease. Methods: One hundred and seventy-seven CFS/FM patients, 26 multiple sclerosis (MS) and 26 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were investigated within 2–6 months after diagnosis. All patients completed a self-report questionnaire assessing daily hassles and associated distress, a visual analogue scale assessing fatigue and pain and a depression and anxiety questionnaire. Results: CFS/FM patients show a higher frequency of hassles, higher emotional impact and higher fatigue, pain, depression and anxiety levels compared with MS/RA patients. Three hassle themes dominate in the CFS/FM group: dissatisfaction with oneself, insecurity and a lack of social recognition. In contrast, hassles reported by MS/RA patients show a much larger diversity and are not focused on person-dependent problems. Conclusions: Patients recently diagnosed as suffering from CFS and/or FM are highly preoccupied and distressed by daily hassles that have a severe impact on their self-image, as well as their personal, social and professional functioning. An optimal therapeutic approach of CFS and FM should take account of this heavy psychosocial burden, which might refer to core themes of these patients’ illness experience.

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