Characterization Of Post–Exertional Malaise In Patients With Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By Barbara Stussman et al in Frontiers in Neurology.


Background: Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by persistent and disabling fatigue, exercise intolerance, cognitive difficulty, and musculoskeletal/joint pain. Post–exertional malaise is a worsening of these symptoms after a physical or mental exertion and is considered a central feature of the illness. Scant observations in the available literature provide qualitative assessments of post–exertional malaise in patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. To enhance our understanding, a series of outpatient focus groups were convened.

Methods: Nine focus groups totaling 43 patients who reported being diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome were held between November 2016 and August 2019. Focus groups queried post–exertional malaise in daily life and participants’ retrospective memory of post–exertional malaise that followed an exercise provocation with a cardiopulmonary exercise test. Data analysis followed the grounded theory method to systematically code and categorize the data to find meaningful patterns. A qualitative software package was used to move text into categories during data coding.

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