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Patient education to encourage graded exercise improved physical functioning in chronic fatigue syndrome

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 QUESTION: In patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), how effective is an education programme in encouraging graded exercise and in improving physical function?


Randomised (unclear allocation concealment*), unblinded,* controlled trial with 12 months follow up.


Chronic fatigue clinic and an infectious diseases outpatient clinic in the UK.


148 patients (mean age 33 y, 78% women) who had the Oxford criteria for CFS and a score of <25 on the physical functioning subscale of the Short Form 36 questionnaire. Exclusion criteria were having further physical investigations or taking other treatments; a history of psychotic illness, somatization disorder, eating disorder, or substance abuse; or being confined to a wheelchair or bed.


Patients were allocated to 1 of 4 groups. 34 patients were allocated to standardised medical care (control group). Patients allocated to an intervention all received 2 individual treatment sessions and 2 telephone follow up calls, supported by an educational package describing the role of disrupted physiological regulation in …

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  • Source of funding: Linbury Trust.

  • For correspondence: Dr R P Bentall, Department of Psychology, Coupland 1 Building, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. Fax +44 (0)161 275 2588.

  • * See glossary.