Purpose: To determine if selected demographic or clinical features of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are associated with recovery.
Patients and methods: A follow-up questionnaire was mailed to 341 patients who had been ill on average for nine years to ascertain "recovery" rate (defined as self-reported recovery on a visual analog scale). Baseline demographic and clinical features (functional status and psychological status) recorded at the time of the initial (baseline) clinical visit were analyzed for their association with recovery at the time of follow-up.
Results: Of the 177 patients who responded to the follow-up questionnaire, only 21 (12%) reported "recovery." Patients with higher levels of physical and social functioning and lower levels of anxiety and obsessive-compulsiveness at baseline were more likely to report recovery at follow-up (p < 0.05). No specific demographic characteristics were associated with recovery.
Conclusion: These findings support previous research that complete recovery from CFS is rare and that patients with less severe illness at the initial clinic visit are more likely to have a positive prognosis for recovery. However, considerable overlap in illness severity was observed between the recovered and nonrecovered groups, suggesting that accurate prediction of recovery in individual CFS patients is not currently feasible.