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Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse, Chronic Fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Community-Based Study


The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: October 2001 - Volume 189 - Issue 10 - p 709-715

Using a randomly selected community-based sample, this investigation examined whether histories of childhood sexual, physical, and death threat abuse predicted adulthood outcomes of specific medical and psychiatric conditions involving chronic fatigue. This study also tested prior suggestions that most individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome report a past history of interpersonal abuse. Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between abuse history and chronic fatigue group outcomes while controlling for the effects of sociodemographics. Compared with healthy controls, childhood sexual abuse was significantly more likely to be associated with outcomes of idiopathic chronic fatigue, chronic fatigue explained by a psychiatric condition, and chronic fatigue explained by a medical condition. None of the abuse history types were significant predictors of chronic fatigue syndrome. A closer examination of individuals in the chronic fatigue syndrome group revealed that significantly fewer individuals with CFS reported abuse as compared with those who did not. The implications of these findings are discussed.

1 Department of Occupational Therapy (MC 811), University of Illinois at Chicago, 1919 W. Taylor St., Chicago, Illinois 60612. Please send reprint requests to Dr. Taylor.

2 Center for Community Research, DePaul University, 990 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60614.

Financial support for this study was provided by National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease grant number AI36295.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.