Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Morton O. Wagenfeld

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Caulfield

Third Advisor

Dr. David Hartmann

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Mary Lagerwey


The purpose of this study was to examine sense of coherence in those individuals diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and to explore its relationship to age, gender, work status, duration of illness, fatigue and functional ability/ disability in this population.

This study used a combined methods approach, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. A sample of thirty individuals diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome was surveyed by means of a self-administered questionnaire, including Antonovsky’s 13-item shortened Sense of Coherence (SOC) scale. A subset of 12 participants participated in the qualitative portion of the study, and answered specific questions regarding their experiences with chronic fatigue syndrome.

No relationship was found between sense of coherence and the CFS patient in terms of age, gender, employment status, duration of illness or fatigue. A significant difference was found between the SOC in the CFS patient and the SOC of other populations diagnosed with a chronic illness, which suggests that CFS may be different in its effects upon the individual than are other chronic illnesses. Qualitative data showed that the CFS individual found life increasingly chaotic, with little manageability, comprehensibility or meaningfulness. This individual experienced an increase in general resistance deficits (GRDs) with fewer general resistance resources (GRRs) to mitigate the chronicity of his/her illness.

Sense of Coherence in the CFS individual is a concept that needs much additional research. Medical sociologists, as well as health care professionals need to further elucidate the concept of Sense of Coherence, and develop appropriate interventions to more effectively support those individuals diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access