Effectiveness of a group-based self-management program for people with chronic fatigue syndrome: a randomized controlled trial

Clin Rehabil. 2017 Jan;31(1):93-103. doi: 10.1177/0269215515621362. Epub 2016 Jul 11.


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of a group-based self-management program for people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Design: A randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Four mid-sized towns in southern Norway and two suburbs of Oslo.

Subjects: A total of 137 adults with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Intervention: A self-management program including eight biweekly meetings of 2.5 hours duration. The control group received usual care.

Main measures: Primary outcome measure: Medical Outcomes Study-Short Form-36 physical functioning subscale.

Secondary outcome measures: Fatigue severity scale, self-efficacy scale, physical and mental component summary of the Short Form-36, and the illness cognition questionnaire (acceptance subscale). Assessments were performed at baseline, and at six-month and one-year follow-ups.

Results: At the six-month follow-up, a significant difference between the two groups was found concerning fatigue severity ( p = 0.039) in favor of the control group, and concerning self-efficacy in favor of the intervention group ( p = 0.039). These significant differences were not sustained at the one-year follow-up. No significant differences were found between the groups concerning physical functioning, acceptance, and health status at any of the measure points. The drop-out rate was 13.9% and the median number of sessions attended was seven (out of eight).

Conclusions: The evaluated self-management program did not have any sustained effect, as compared with receiving usual care.

Keywords: Chronic fatigue syndrome; coping; patient education; randomized controlled trial; self-efficacy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / psychology
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Psychotherapy, Group*
  • Self Care*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Treatment Outcome