Faculty Advisor

Leonard Jason


This study examined how the mode of onset for myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME and CFS) impacts patients’ presenting symptomatology. Specifically, this study investigated the differences between the most commonly reported ME and CFS onsets: infectious, stress-related, and a combined infectious and stress-related onset (referred to as ‘combined onset’). Three patient samples were combined and utilized. All participants met Fukuda et al. (1994) criteria and self-reported their illness onset. Analyses showed the infectious group reported the most impairment for general health functioning—which relates to the susceptibility of getting or feeling sick—in comparison to the stress-related group. Meanwhile, both the stress-related and combined groups reported more impairment for mental health functioning than the infectious group. Lastly, the infectious and combined groups reported worse autonomic and immune symptomatology than the stress group. These findings illustrate that the mode of onset for ME and CFS could play a factor in a patient’s prognosis. An infectious onset might lead to worse physical and somatic symptoms, while a stress onset might lead to worse psychological functioning. These findings are consistent with prior research. Future research should continue investigating the differences amongst patients based on illness onset, as well as other factors (e.g., psychiatric co-morbidity).