ME/CFS affects men, women and children of all ages, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. However, women are 2 to about 4 times more likely than men to acquire the condition (Jason L. A. et al. 1999; Reyes, M. et al. 2003 and Phoenixrising.me). Many sufferers were previously fit and active with busy social lives and scholarly pursuits or careers.
The prevalence of ME/CFS is a contentious topic. In the year 2002, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) attributed the prevalence of ME/CFS between 0.2% and 0.7% of the Australian population (Chronic fatigue syndrome Clinical practice guidelines (2002)). In more recent years, a 2013 meta-analysis by Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik and co-workers (Griffith Health Institute, School of Medical Sciences, National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases, Griffith University) performed a meta-analysis on 14 acceptible studies and found the “pooled prevalence for self-reporting assessment was 3.28% (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 2.24–4.33) and 0.76% (95% CI: 0.23–1.29) for clinical assessment” (using the 1994 CDC case definition). They conclude “The observed heterogeneity in CFS/ME prevalence may be due to differences in method of assessment…” They also concluded that prevalence estimates based on self-reporting alone “should be viewed with caution…” and that “clinically valid diagnoses are vital for prevalence studies of ME/CFS”.
International studies conducted in recent years have put the prevalence of ME/CFS between 0.4% to 2.6% of the population (Jason L. A., 2007) in the UK and the US however varying definitions and classifications of ME/CFS have impacted on reporting and diagnosis of the condition.
Johnston, S., et al. “The prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome/ myalgic encephalomyelitis: a meta-analysis.” Clin Epidemiol, 2013, 5: 105-110.
Reyes, M., et al. “Prevalence and incidence of chronic fatigue syndrome in Wichita, Kansas.” Arch Intern Med, 2003, 163(13): 1530-1536.
Jason, L. A., et al. “A community-based study of chronic fatigue syndrome.” Arch Intern Med, 1999, 159(18): 2129-2137.