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Table 2 Prevalence of CFS/ME by subgroup (± SD)

From: Systematic review and meta-analysis of the prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME)

GroupaMale (%)Female (%)Total (%, M/F)Total (%)
(21 studies/24 data)(46 studies/56 data)
Average prevalence of all studies1.11 ± 1.052.24 ± 2.591.67 ± 2.061.40 ± 1.57
Pooled prevalence of all studies (Total N. of CFS/N. of participantsb)0.74 (451/61,069)1.92 (1308/68,124)1.37 (1778/129,780)0.39 (5370/1387,787)
Pooled prevalence of the general population (N. of adult CFS/N. of adult participants)0.75 (451/60,432)1.92 (1304/67,790)1.38 (1774/128,809)0.38 (4724/1258,337)
Mean age of CFS patients (12 studies)39.3 ± 7.839.1 ± 7.640.4 ± 7.740.4 ± 7.7
Prevalence by subgroup (N. of studies that reported sex)
 Study participants
  Community (16)1.03 ± 1.132.31 ± 2.881.67 ± 2.281.56 ± 1.80
  Pooled prevalence (N. of CFS/N. of participantsb)0.70 (404/57,751)1.94 (1190/61,365)1.34 (1594/119,116)0.73 (4014/548,461)
  Primary care (5)1.39 ± 0.561.96 ± 0.741.68 ± 0.721.16 ± 1.13
  Pooled prevalence (N. of CFS/N. of participantsb)1.42 (47/3318)1.75 (118/6759)1.64 (165/10,077)0.21 (1739/839,326)
 Publication year    
  1990–2000 (9)0.62 ± 0.581.26 ± 1.420.94 ± 1.130.96 ± 0.91
  2001–2010 (10)1.35 ± 1.182.99 ± 3.112.17 ± 2.492.08 ± 2.01
  2011–2018 (2)1.75 ± 0.831.78 ± 0.711.76 ± 0.770.84 ± 0.86
 Population group
  General population (≥ 18 years) (19)1.39 ± 1.052.83 ± 2.612.11 ± 2.071.45 ± 1.68
  Children/adolescents (< 18 years) (0)0.89 ± 0.82
  Specific populationc(1)0.120.060.09 ± 0.031.62 ± 1.17
 Case definition (8 case definitions)
  CDC-1994 [22] (16)1.24 ± 1.042.61 ± 2.751.93 ± 2.191.46 ± 1.34
  Holmes [23] (4)0.07 ± 0.050.14 ± 0.150.11 ± 0.120.34 ± 0.40
  Australian [25] (1)2.655.233.94 ± 1.292.52 ± 2.99
  Oxford [24] (2)1.23 ± 0.641.76 ± 1.221.51 ± 1.001.73 ± 1.35
  CCC [27] ECD [26] PVES [28] NICE [29]d(0)0.53 ± 0.77
 Country (13 countries)
  Western (12)1.14 ± 0.972.40 ± 2.861.77 ± 2.221.32 ± 1.45
  Asian (8)1.23 ± 2.922.06 ± 1.851.65 ± 1.641.51 ± 1.74
  Otherse(1)0.110.500.31 ± 0.202.65 ± 2.37
 Diagnostic method
  Interview (medical test -) (9)1.70 ± 1.214.32 ± 3.243.01 ± 2.632.03 ± 2.13
  Interview (medical test +) (10)0.86 ± 0.701.23 ± 0.931.05 ± 0.841.17 ± 0.77
  Physician diagnosis (0)0.10 ± 0.05
  Medical records (1)2.572.492.53 ± 0.061.25 ± 1.00
  1. aThe prevalence by sex was estimated from studies that reported both the number of participants and the number with CFS
  2. bParticipant number was applied to individual prevalence data for the studies with multiple case definitions
  3. cSpecific groups included nurses, Gulf War veterans, livestock workers, company employees, etc
  4. dCCC, Canadian Consensus Criteria; ECD, epidemiological case definition; PVES, post viral exhaustion syndrome; and NICE, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline 2007; two studies with no verification of case definition and defined criteria were excluded
  5. eOther countries included India and Nigeria