Outpatient rehabilitative treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME)

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Abstract

Aims:

To assess the outcome of outpatient multidisciplinary rehabilitative treatment (graded activities/exercise programme, family sessions, and supportive care) compared with supportive care alone for children and adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME).

Methods:

Fifty six young people (aged 9–17 years) with CFS/ME by standard criteria were followed up for 3–24 months. All subjects received supportive care. Families additionally opted to either enter the rehabilitation programme (supportive care plus graded activities/exercise programme and family sessions) or have no additional treatment.

Results:

Twenty two (39%) subjects had supportive care alone and 26 (46%) entered the programme. Treatment groups were comparable at baseline in terms of age, severity and duration of illness, Wellness score, and school attendance. At end of follow up, those in the programme group had significantly higher Wellness score and school attendance than those having supportive care alone. The programme significantly reduced the overall severity of illness: after the programme, 43% had complete resolution of CFS/ME compared to only 4.5% of those having supportive care alone. The presence of depressed mood and family beliefs about the aetiology of CFS/ME were not significantly associated with outcomes.

Conclusions:

Outpatient rehabilitative treatment offers significant potential to improve the prognosis of CFS/ME in childhood and adolescence.

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