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Center for Clinical and Epidemiological Research (CCER)

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About the Programs in Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue

People with Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronically fatiguing conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are longstanding and debilitating health conditions of unknown cause. While these conditions have been associated with major depression and other psychiatric diagnoses, perturbations of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, disruption of sleep architecture, and neurocognitive impairment, these abnormalities are typically subtle, and their role in the conditions not known.

The chronic fatigue and pain research program at the UW CCER evolved out of the Chronic Fatigue Clinic at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. The Clinic, which opened in 1988, is directed by Dr. Dedra Buchwald, an internist and leading researcher in the area of chronic fatigue syndrome. The Clinic was one of the first tertiary care clinics in the country focused on the assessment and treatment of chronically fatiguing conditions.

The research program that has grown out of this clinical effort has focused on illuminating the "5 P's" model of chronically fatiguing conditions: predisposition, precipitants, perpetuators, predictors of chronicity, and perceptual factors involved in the illness. In 1994 Dr. Buchwald and an interdisciplinary group of collaborators were awarded one of three Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Cooperative Research Center grants from the National Institutes of Health. The original Cooperative Research Center involved three cores to support a research effort and four specific research projects. The Cooperative Research Center was renewed in 1999 to support the three cores and pursue an additional four projects.

More recently, the program has also focused on examining the effectiveness of several unique treatments.