Evaluating Attributions for an Illness Based Upon the Name: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalopathy and Florence Nightingale Disease

Leonard A. Jason*, Renee R. Taylor, Sigita Plioplys, Zuzanna Stepanek, Jennifer Shlaes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

In recent years, considerable discussion has occurred about stigma surrounding the name given to an illness currently known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Although patients and medical personnel have expressed varying opinions on this issue, no studies have evaluated how beliefs about the illness change based upon the type of name used for diagnostic purposes. Proposals have been put forth to rename the illness with an eponym (a famous patient's or researcher's name) or with a less trivial sounding, more medically based type of name. In this study, attributions about CFS were measured in three groups of medical trainees. All groups read the same case study of a person with classic symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, with the only difference being in the type of name given. Trainees then were asked to provide attributions about certain aspects of the illness, including its cause, severity, and prognosis. Results suggested that, across name conditions, most trainees appeared to consider the symptom complex of CFS a serious illness resulting in poor quality of life. In addition, findings indicated that the name, chronic fatigue syndrome, may he regarded less seriously than the Myalgie Encephalopathy name with respect to some important aspects of the illness. In this study, specialty of medical trainee also played a role in how the illness was perceived.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-148
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

Keywords

  • Attributions
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Name

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating Attributions for an Illness Based Upon the Name: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalopathy and Florence Nightingale Disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this