Aims: To review studies evaluating the treatment of chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome, to describe predictors of response to treatment and to discuss the role of the occupational health physician.
Methods: A literature search was carried out using Medline and PsychInfo.
Results: Studies evaluating cognitive behaviour therapy, graded exercise therapy, pharmacological interventions (e.g. antidepressants and corticosteroids), immunological interventions and nutritional supplements were reviewed. The most promising results have been found with cognitive behaviour therapy and graded exercise therapy, and some predictors of outcome have been identified. Most of the other interventions were evaluated in just one or two studies and therefore evidence is insufficient to draw firm conclusions.
Conclusions: By applying the models of fatigue that form the bases for cognitive behaviour therapy and graded exercise therapy, occupational health physicians may play an important role in helping the patients with chronic fatigue syndrome to reduce their symptoms, improve their functioning and return to work.