Who gets ME/CFS?

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. 1999Reyes, 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.

What is ME/CFS?

What causes ME/CFS?



Further reading