The role of acceptance in chronic fatigue syndrome

J Psychosom Res. 2011 Dec;71(6):411-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2011.08.001. Epub 2011 Sep 16.


Objective: In this paper we consider the role that acceptance plays in fatigue and physical and social functioning. We predicted that lack of acceptance would be positively correlated with fatigue and impairment in functioning; that there would be a significant relationship between perfectionism and acceptance; and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) would increase acceptance.

Methods: Two hundred and fifty nine patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) completed questionnaires measuring fatigue, physical functioning, work and social adjustment, lack of acceptance, perfectionism and depression. Ninety consecutive attenders received a course of CBT and completed further questionnaires at discharge and 3months post-treatment. Correlations and multiple hierarchical regressions were used to determine relationships between acceptance, perfectionism and clinical outcome variables.

Results: At baseline, lack of acceptance was the key factor associated with impaired physical functioning and work and social adjustment. Lack of acceptance and doubts about actions were associated with fatigue in a multiple regression analysis. At discharge and follow-up patients showed significantly increased acceptance, as well as reduced Concern over Mistakes, less fatigue and impairment of physical functioning, and improved work and social adjustment.

Conclusion: This is the first study to our knowledge which shows a change in acceptance after CBT and a relationship between acceptance and perfectionism. Acceptance may be an important factor to consider within treatments for CFS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Behavior*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Emotions
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / psychology*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome