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Screening for Psychiatric Morbidity in Subjects Presenting with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Anne Farmer*
Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine
Helen Chubb
Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine
Irene Jones
Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine
Janis Hillier
Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine
Andy Smith
Department of Psychology, University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1TN
Leszek Borysiewicz
Department of Medicine, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF4 4XN
Dr A. Farmer, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff CF4 4XN



There is a need for a valid self-rating questionnaire to screen for psychiatric morbidity in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This study had the aim of assessing the utility and validity of two commonly used measures.


Scores obtained on the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) were compared with various diagnostic and severity ratings obtained via a validating clinical interview, the Schedules for the Clinical Assessment of Neuropsychiatry (SCAN) in 95 consecutively referred subjects at a medical out-patient clinic who fulfilled standard criteria for CFS, and 48 healthy controls. Outcome measures were validating coefficients and receiver operating characteristics (ROC) for different thresholds and scoring on GHQ and BDI and index of definition (ID) as measured by SCAN; and Pearson and point by serial correlation coefficients for different diagnostic groups derived via SCAN and defined according to ICD–10 and DSM–III–R.


GHQ and BDI perform poorly as screeners of psychiatric morbidity in CFS subjects when compared with various SCAN derived ratings although results for controls are comparable with other studies.


Neither the GHQ nor BDI alone can be recommended as screeners for psychiatric morbidity in CFS subjects.

Research Article
Copyright © 1996 The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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