Measuring School Functioning in Students With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Systematic Review

J Sch Health. 2018 Jan;88(1):74-89. doi: 10.1111/josh.12580.


Background: It is often surmised that school functioning is significantly impacted in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); however, how this phenomenon manifests itself has rarely been characterized.

Methods: This systematic review synthesized and critically appraised methods, constructs, and instruments used to assess school functioning in students with CFS. Searches were conducted in electronic databases (CINAHL, MEDLINE, PubMed, ERIC, and PsycINFO) to locate empirical studies that measured school functioning in children and adolescents with CFS.

Results: A total of 36 papers met the inclusion criteria. By far the most commonly reported school functioning construct measured related to school attendance. This was followed by academic functioning, achievement motivation, and educational services received. Little consistency was found in the measurement of these constructs across studies.

Conclusions: The current review revealed that the school experiences of children and adolescents with CFS have rarely been characterized beyond school absenteeism. Improvements in current assessment methods are required to comprehensively understand the impact of CFS on school functioning. Completely understanding the multiple aspects of school functioning will help to inform targeted strategies to optimize educational outcomes for students with CFS.

Keywords: child and adolescent health; chronic diseases; chronic fatigue syndrome; school functioning; school psychology.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • School Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*