Telephone-based guided self-help for adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome: A non-randomised cohort study

Behav Res Ther. 2012 May;50(5):304-12. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2012.02.014. Epub 2012 Mar 10.


The aim of this study was to gain preliminary evidence about the efficacy of a new telephone-based guided self-help intervention, based on cognitive-behavioural principles, which aimed to reduce fatigue and improve school attendance in adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). A non-randomised cohort design was used, with a two-month baseline period. Sixty-three 11-18 year-old participants recruited from a specialist CFS unit received the intervention. Participants received six half-hour fortnightly telephone sessions and two follow-up sessions. Fatigue and school attendance were the main outcomes and the main time point for assessing outcome was 6 months post-treatment. Using multi-level modelling, a significant decrease in fatigue was found between pre-treatment and 6 month follow-up, treatment effect estimate = - 5.68 (-7.63, -3.72), a large effect size (Cohen's d = 0.79). The decrease in fatigue between pre and post-treatment was significantly larger than between baseline and pre-treatment. A significant increase in school attendance was found between pre-treatment and 6 month follow-up, effect estimate = 1.38 (0.76, 2.00), a medium effect size (d = -0.48). univariate logistic regression found baseline perfectionism to be associated with better [corrected] school attendance at six-month follow-up. In conclusion, telephone-based guided self-help is an acceptable minimal intervention which is efficacious in reducing fatigue in adolescents with CFS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Fatigue / prevention & control*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Risk Factors
  • Telephone*
  • Treatment Outcome