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Prevalence of comorbid mental and physical illnesses and risks for self-harm and premature death among primary care patients diagnosed with fatigue syndromes

  • Matthew J. Carr (a1) (a2), Darren M. Ashcroft (a2) (a3), Peter D. White (a4), Nav Kapur (a1) (a5) and Roger T. Webb (a1) (a2)...

Abstract

Background

Fatigue syndromes (FSs) affect large numbers of individuals, yet evidence from epidemiological studies on adverse outcomes, such as premature death, is limited.

Methods

Cohort study involving 385 general practices in England that contributed to the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) with linked inpatient Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) and Office for National Statistics (ONS) cause of death information. A total of 10 477 patients aged 15 years and above, diagnosed with a FS during 2000–2014, were individually matched with up to 20 comparator patients without a history of having a FS. Prevalence ratios (PRs) were estimated to compare the FS and comparison cohorts on clinical characteristics. Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for subsequent adverse outcomes were estimated from stratified Cox regression models.

Results

Among patients diagnosed with FSs, we found elevated baseline prevalence of: any psychiatric illness (PR 1.77; 95% CI 1.72–1.82), anxiety disorders (PR 1.92; 1.85–1.99), depression (PR 1.89; 1.83–1.96), psychotropic prescriptions (PR 1.68; 1.64–1.72) and comorbid physical illness (PR 1.28; 1.23–1.32). We found no significant differences in risks for: all-cause mortality (HR 0.99; 0.91–1.09), natural death (HR 0.99; 0.90–1.09), unnatural death (HR 1.00; 0.59–1.72) or suicide (HR 1.68; 0.78–3.63). We did, however, observe a significantly elevated non-fatal self-harm risk: HR 1.83; 1.56–2.15.

Conclusions

The absence of elevated premature mortality risk is reassuring. The raised prevalence of mental illness and increased non-fatal self-harm risk indicate a need for enhanced assessment and management of psychopathology associated with fatigue syndromes.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Roger T. Webb, E-mail: roger.webb@manchester.ac.uk

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Prevalence of comorbid mental and physical illnesses and risks for self-harm and premature death among primary care patients diagnosed with fatigue syndromes

  • Matthew J. Carr (a1) (a2), Darren M. Ashcroft (a2) (a3), Peter D. White (a4), Nav Kapur (a1) (a5) and Roger T. Webb (a1) (a2)...

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