Prevalence and incidence of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome in Europe—the Euro-epiME study from the European network EUROMENE: a protocol for a systematic review

Fernando Estévez-López, Jesus Castro-Marrero, Xia Wang, Inger Johanne Bakken, Andrejs Ivanovs, Luis Nacul, Nuno Sepúlveda, Elin B Strand, Derek Pheby, Jose Alegre, Carmen Scheibenbogen, Evelina Shikova, Lorenzo Lorusso, Enrica Capelli, Slobodan Sekulic, Eliana Lacerda, Modra Murovska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a chronic disease involving central nervous system and immune system disorders, as well as cardiovascular abnormalities. ME/CFS is characterised by severe chronic fatigue lasting for at least 6 months, including clinical symptoms such as tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes, muscle pain, joint pain without swelling or redness, post-exertional malaise for more than 24 hours and unrefreshing sleep. Studies on the epidemiology of ME/CFS in Europe only include single countries and, therefore, the prevalence and incidence of ME/CFS in Europe (as a whole) is unknown. One of the purposes of the European Network on ME/CFS (EUROMENE; European Union-funded COST Action; Reference number: 15111) is to address this gap in knowledge. We will systematically review the literature reporting figures from European countries to provide a robust summary and identify new challenges.

Methods and analysis: We will systematically search the literature databases Scopus, PubMed and Web of Science for studies published in the last 10 years (ie, after 2007). No language restriction will be applied. Two independent reviewers will search, screen and select studies as well as extract data about their main characteristics and evaluate their methodological and reporting quality. When disagreements emerge, the reviewers will discuss to reach a consensus. We plan to produce a narrative summary of our findings as we anticipate that studies are scarce and heterogeneous. The possibility of performing meta-analyses will be discussed in a EUROMENE meeting.

Ethics and dissemination: Ethical approval is not required as only publicly available data will be included. Findings will be described in EUROMENE reports, published in peer-reviewed journal(s) and presented at conferences. The findings will be also communicated to policy-makers, healthcare providers, people with ME/CFS and other sections of society through regular channels including the mass-media.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere020817
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2018

Cite this