Longitudinal assessment of neuropsychological functioning, psychiatric status, functional disability and employment status in chronic fatigue syndrome

Appl Neuropsychol. 2001;8(1):41-50. doi: 10.1207/S15324826AN0801_6.


The longitudinal course of subjective and objective neuropsychological functioning, psychological functioning, disability level, and employment status in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) was examined. The relations among several key outcomes at follow-up, as well as the baseline characteristics that predict change (e.g., improvement), were also evaluated. The study sample consisted of 35 individuals who met the 1988 and 1994 CFS case definition criteria of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at intake. Participants were evaluated a mean of 41.9 (SEM = 1.7) months following their initial visit (range = 24-63 months). Results indicated that objective and subjective attention abilities, mood, level of fatigue, and disability improve over time in individuals with CFS. Moreover, improvements in these areas were found to be interrelated at follow-up. Finally, psychiatric status, age, and between-test duration were significant predictors of outcome. Overall, the prognosis for CFS appears to be poor, as the majority of participants remained functionally impaired over time and were unemployed at follow-up, despite the noted improvements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Employment*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / complications
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prognosis