myalgic encephalomyelitis; chronic fatigue syndrome; National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS); co-morbidities; healthcare utilization; quality indicators of healthcare
Frontiers Media SA
Frontiers in Pediatrics, vol. 7, no. 185, pp. 1 - 9
Frontiers in Pediatrics
Background: ME/CFS is a complex and disabling illness with substantial economic burden and functional impairment comparable to heart disease and multiple sclerosis. Many patients with ME/CFS do not receive appropriate healthcare, partially due to lack of diagnostic tests, and knowledge/attitudes/beliefs about ME/CFS. This study was to assess the utility of US ambulatory healthcare data in proﬁling demographics, co-morbidities, and healthcare in ME/CFS. Methods: Data came from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) in the U.S. Weighted analysis was performed. We examined 9.06 billion adult visits from 2000 to 2009 NAMCS/NHAMCS data. ME/CFS-related visits were identiﬁed by ICD-9-CM code, 780.71, up to tertiary diagnosis. Results: We estimated 2.9 million (95% CI: 1.8–3.9 million) ME/CFS-related visits during 2000–2009, with no statistical evidence (p-trend = 0.31) for a decline or increase in ME/CFS-related visits. Internists, general and family practitioners combined provided 52.12% of these visits. Patients with ME/CFS-related visits were mostly in their 40 and 50s (47.76%), female (66.07%), white (86.95%), metropolitan/urban residents (92.05%), and insured (87.26%). About 71% of ME/CFS patients had co-morbidities, including depression (35.79%), hypertension (31.14%), diabetes (20.30%), and arthritis (14.11%). As one quality indicator, physicians spent more time on ME/CFS-related visits than non-ME/CFS visits (23.62 vs. 19.38min, p = 0.065). As additional quality indicators, the top three preventive counseling services provided to patients with ME/CFS-related visits were diet/nutrition (8.33%), exercise (8.21%), and smoking cessation (7.24%). Compared to non-ME/CFS visits, fewer ME/CFS-related visits included counseling for stress management (0.75 vs. 3.14%, p = 0.010), weight reduction (0.88 vs. 4.02%, p = 0.002), injury prevention (0.04 vs. 1.64%, p < 0.001), and family planning/contraception (0.17 vs. 1.45%, p = 0.037). Conclusions: Visits coded with ME/CFS did not increase from 2000 to 2009. Almost three quarters of ME/CFS-related visits were made by ME/CFS patients with other co-morbid conditions, further adding to complexity in ME/CFS healthcare. While physiciansspentmoretimewithME/CFSpatients,alowerproportionofME/CFSpatients received preventive counseling for weight reduction, stress management, and injury prevention than other patients despite the complexity of ME/CFS. NAMCS/NHAMCS data are useful in evaluating co-morbidities, healthcare utilization, and quality indicators for healthcare in ME/CFS.