Psychiatric misdiagnoses in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome
Lawn T., Kumar P., Knight B., Sharpe M., White PD.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to examine the accuracy of doctors at diagnosing co-morbid psychiatric disorders in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). DESIGN: Case series comparing clinical diagnoses with a standardized structured psychiatric interview. SETTING: Secondary care specialist chronic fatigue syndrome clinic. PARTICIPANTS: One hundred and thirty-five participants of a randomized controlled trial of non-pharmacological treatments at one centre in the PACE trial. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Current psychiatric diagnoses made by CFS specialist doctors, compared with current psychiatric diagnoses made independently using a structured psychiatric interview. RESULTS: Clinicians identified 59 (44%, 95% CI 39-56%) of patients as suffering from a co-morbid psychiatric disorder compared to 76 (56%, CI 53-69%) by structured interview. Depressive and anxiety disorders were most common. Clinicians were twice as likely to miss diagnoses (30 patients, 22%) than misdiagnose them (13, 10%). Psychiatrists were less likely to miss diagnoses than other clinicians, but were as likely to misdiagnose them. CONCLUSIONS: Doctors assessing patients in a chronic fatigue syndrome clinic miss psychiatric diagnoses more often than misdiagnosing them. Missed diagnoses are common. CFS clinic doctors should be trained to diagnose psychiatric disorders