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Prevalence of DSM-IV Personality Disorders in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Controlled Study

Abstract

Background

It is not yet clear whether chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is associated with elevated levels of personality disorders.

Purpose

This study aims to determine the prevalence of DSM-IV axis II personality disorders among patients with CFS.

Methods

We examined the prevalence of personality disorders in a sample of 92 female CFS patients and in two well-matched control groups, i.e., normal community individuals (N = 92) and psychiatric patients (N = 92). Participants completed the assessment of DSM-IV personality disorders questionnaire (ADP-IV), which yields a categorical and dimensional evaluation of personality disorder features.

Results

The prevalence of personality disorders in CFS patients (16.3 %) was significantly lower than in psychiatric patients (58.7 %) and was similar to that in the community sample (16.3 %). Similar results were found for dimensional and pseudodimensional scores, except for the Depressive (DE) and Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder (O-C) subscales. Patients with CFS had significantly higher levels of DE features compared to normal controls and similar dimensional scores on the O-C scale compared to psychiatric controls.

Conclusions

Although the CFS sample was characterized by depressive and obsessive–compulsive personality features, this study provides no evidence for the assumption that these patients generally show a higher prevalence of axis II pathology. Given the conflicting findings in this area, future studies using multiple measures to assess personality disorders in CFS are needed to substantiate these findings.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Greta Moorkens for her help in data collection of the Antwerp sample.

We would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

Data collection of the Leuven sample was partially funded by a research grant from the National Fund for Scientific Research—Flanders (Belgium) (No. 3H080485).

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Correspondence to Stefan Kempke.

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Kempke, S., Van Den Eede, F., Schotte, C. et al. Prevalence of DSM-IV Personality Disorders in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Controlled Study. Int.J. Behav. Med. 20, 219–228 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12529-012-9273-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12529-012-9273-y

Keywords

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Personality
  • Personality disorders
  • Perfectionism
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Functional somatic syndromes