Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Sleep characteristics of persons with chronic fatigue syndrome and non-fatigued controls: results from a population-based study

William C Reeves*, Christine Heim, Elizabeth M Maloney, Laura Solomon Youngblood, Elizabeth R Unger, Michael J Decker, James F Jones and David B Rye

BMC Neurology 2006, 6:41  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-41

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New or "Unusual" definition for CFS used in this study

Tom Kindlon   (2008-10-27 13:27)  Irish ME/CFS Association - for Information, Support & Research email

People reading this study need to be aware that it uses a new or "unusual" definition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)[1] so the results may not apply to CFS cohorts as usually defined[2].

This definition selects a group covering 2.54% of the adult population[3].

This is much higher than previous estimates of the prevalence of CFS. For example, members of the team in this study have previously estimated the prevalence as 0.235%[4] i.e. the prevalence rate using this definition is 10.8 times the rate found using the more usual CFS definition[2].

There has been some criticism of this new definition[5].

Unlike previous times when the CDC produced definitions for CFS[2,6], the definition used in this study is generally only being used by the CDC-funded CFS research team.

[1] Reeves WC, Wagner D, Nisenbaum R, Jones JF, Gurbaxani B, Solomon L, Papanicolaou DA, Unger ER, Vernon SD, Heim C: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – A clinically empirical approach to its definition and study. BMC Medicine 2005, 3:19 (15 December 2005)

[2] Fukuda, K., Straus, S.E., Hickie, I., Sharpe, M.C., Dobbins, J.G., & Komaroff, A. (1994). The chronic fatigue syndrome: A comprehensive approach to its definition and study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 121 (12):953-959.

[3] Reeves WC, Jones JF, Maloney E, Heim C, Hoaglin DC, Boneva RS, Morrissey M, Devlin R

Prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome in metropolitan, urban, and rural Georgia. Population Health Metrics 2007, 5:5 (8 June 2007)

[4] Reyes M, Nisenbaum R, Hoaglin DC, Unger ER, Emmons C, Randall B, Stewart JA, Abbey S, Jones JF, Gantz N, Minden S, Reeves WC: Prevalence and incidence of chronic fatigue syndrome in Wichita, Kansas. Arch Int Med 2003, 163:1530-1536.

[5] Jason Leonard: Issues with CDC Empirical Case Definition and Prevalence of CFS. IACFS website i.e.

[6] Holmes GP, Kaplan JE, Gantz NM, Komaroff AL, Schonberger LB, Straus SE, et al. Chronic fatigue syndrome: a working case definition. Ann Intern Med. 1988; 108:387-9.

Competing interests

No competing interests


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