Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

The effect of social adversity on the fatigue syndrome, psychiatric disorders and physical recovery, following glandular fever

W. D. A. Bruce-Jonesa1 c1, P. D. Whitea1, J. M. Thomasa1 and A. W. Clarea1

a1 Departments of Psychological Medicine and Computer Sciences, St Bartholomew's Hospital, London

Abstract

Two hundred and fifty patients attending primary care with glandular fever or an upper respiratory tract infection were studied prospectively up to 6 months after onset. Of these patients 228 were interviewed with the Life Events and Difficulties Schedule and the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia, giving Research Diagnostic Criteria for psychiatric disorders. The experience of severe social adversity (provoking agents) had a significant association with psychiatric disorder at 2 months (odds ratio = 5·3) and 6 months (odds ratio = 5·8) after onset of infection. This association was especially significant for depressive illness (odds ratio = 9·1 at 2 months and 11·9 at 6 months). In contrast, social adversity had little association with the development of the post-infectious fatigue syndrome, or delayed physical recovery. Social adversity may be an important maintaining factor for psychiatric disorders, especially depressive illness, following acute infections.

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Peter D. White, Department of Psychological Medicine, St Bartholomew's Hospital, West Smithfield, London EC1A 7BE

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