Journal of Rheumatology vol:27 issue:4 pages:1051-1055
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the attributions of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FM) consulting at a university fatigue and pain clinic. METHODS: Consecutive attenders (n = 192) who met the CFS criteria (n = 95) or FM criteria (n = 56) or who had medically unexplained chronic pain and/or fatigue without meeting both criteria (CPF) (n = 41) were evaluated. All subjects completed an extended form of the Cause of Illness Inventory. Descriptive statistics, frequency analyses, chi-square tests, one-way analysis of variance, and sequential Fisher least significant difference tests were performed. RESULTS: In total, 48 patients reported physical causes only and 10 patients psychosocial causes only; the majority (70%) mentioned both types of causes. With regard to the contents, "a chemical imbalance in my body" (61%), "a virus" (51%), "stress" (61%), and "emotional confusion" (40%) were reported most frequently. The diagnostic label did not have a significant influence on number and type of attributions. Small to moderate effect sizes were registered concerning the association of specific attributions and diagnosis, sex, duration of the symptoms, contact with a self-help group, and premorbid depression. CONCLUSION: The majority of patients with CFS, FM, and CPF reported a great diversity of attributions open to a preferably personalized cognitive behavioral approach. Special attention should be paid to patients with symptoms existing for more than one year and those who had previous contacts with a self-help group. They particularly show external, stable, and global attributions that may compromise feelings of self-efficacy in dealing with the illness.