Background: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a long-term disabling illness accompanied by medically unexplained fatigue. This study aimed to explore the epidemiological characteristics of CFS in South Korea.
Methods: Using the nationwide medical records provided by the Korean Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service (HIRA), we analyzed the entire dataset for CFS patients diagnosed by physicians in Korea from January 2010 to December 2020.
Results: The annual mean incidence of CFS was estimated to be 44.71 ± 6.10 cases per 100,000 individuals [95% CI: 40.57, 48.76], and the prevalence rate was 57.70 ± 12.20 cases per 100,000 individuals [95% CI: 49.40, 65.79]. These two rates increased by 1.53- and 1.94-fold from 2010 to 2020, respectively, and showed an increasing trend with aging and an approximately 1.5-fold female predominance.
Conclusions: This study is the first to report the nationwide epidemiological features of CFS, which reflects the clinical reality of CFS diagnosis and care in South Korea. This study will be a valuable reference for studies of CFS in the future.