Institute of Medicine Proposes New Diagnostic Criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Posted by The Evidence Blog on February 19, 2015

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex, multisystem disorder that may affect as many as 3.5 million Americans. For patients, getting a diagnosis can be a frustrating and lengthy process. But that may be changing. On February 20, 2015, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee of experts proposed new diagnostic criteria designed to make it easier for healthcare providers to identify patients with the disease. Additionally, the committee called for renaming chronic fatigue syndrome with a more descriptive term, systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID), to reflect that symptoms worsen after exertion.

For a diagnosis of SEID, the committee proposed that 3 core symptoms be present:

  • A substantial reduction or impairment in the ability to engage in pre-illness levels of activity that lasts for more than 6 months and is accompanied by fatigue
  • Post-exertional malaise
  • Unrefreshing sleep

In addition, patients must demonstrate cognitive impairment or orthostatic intolerance, that is, difficulty maintaining an upright posture.

In developing these criteria, the committee performed a comprehensive review of the evidence and noted a paucity of research and methodologic limitations of the existing research base. Nevertheless, the committee expects the more focused diagnostic criteria to make it easier for clinicians to accurately diagnose patients more quickly.

You can read the entire report online or download a copy here.

Topics: Hayes Blog

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