TABLE OF CONTENTS
Survey Reveals Physician
By Renée Brehio
The Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction
Syndrome (CFIDS) Association of America recently surveyed medical professionals
and researchers to determine their attitudes toward and knowledge of CFIDS, as
well as potential barriers to diagnosis and treatment.
The short, 20-question survey confirmed
some commonly held beliefs about the illness and pointed out areas where more
education is needed. Data from the survey, which also identified physician
spokespeople for the illness, will give the Association much-needed new
information to interest the media. Reporters are constantly looking for fresh
story angles, and the survey may provide the boost they need to decide to cover
Methods and findings
questionnaire was mailed to the 8,000-plus medical professionals and researchers
in the Association's database, including those who subscribe to The CFIDS
Chronicle and/or The CFS Research Review and others who had
contacted the Association for information in the past.
More than 850 individuals returned
survey, which is an excellent response rate for a medical audience. The majority
of respondents were physicians who specialize in internal medicine (24%) or
family practice (20%). Most said that they see between one and 50 CFIDS patients
Key findings from the survey include:
- The largest percentage of physicians
surveyed (37%) believe the primary cause of CFS is immune dysfunction; an
almost equal number said the cause is unknown.
- 53% of respondents said CFS is as
disabling as other chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and
rheumatoid arthritis, while 22% said that it is more disabling.
- 83% cited impaired memory and/or
concentration as the most common non-fatigue related symptom.
- When asked what one symptom other than
fatigue made them more likely to suspect CFIDS, or without which they would
not make a diagnosis, the most common write-in answer was post-exertional
- 69% of respondents answered that it is
possible to diagnose CFIDS in children 12 and over, while only 18% believe it
is valid to diagnose CFIDS in children ages 5-12.
- When asked about treatment, the largest
percentage of respondents (69%) recommend lifestyle adjustments, while smaller
percentages also prescribe antidepressants (65%), sleep aids (44.7%), pain
medication (30%), immune modulators (15.7%) and antivirals or antibiotics
- 92% of the medical professionals
surveyed felt that that more professional education about CFIDS is needed.
Uses for survey
Association will use information from the survey in its public relations and
provider education programs. People with CFIDS (PWCs) can use the survey in
their own education efforts by presenting the data to health care providers,
family members, friends and employers seeking to understand the illness. For
instance, the fact that 75% of the medical professionals surveyed believe CFIDS
is as or more debilitating than other chronic illnesses may help impress upon
others the physical toll this illness takes.
PWCs can also use the survey to raise
awareness among their local media. A press release, fact sheet, cover letter and
instructions for contacting media are available on the CFIDS Association's Web
site. Click here for
a press release, fact sheet, cover letter and instructions for contacting your
Renée Brehio is director of
communications for The CFIDS Association of America.