OBJECTIVE: Cognitive behavior therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome
was compared with relaxation in a randomized controlled trial.
METHODS: Sixty patients with chronic fatigue syndrome were
randomly assigned to 13 sessions of either cognitive behavior
therapy (graded activity and cognitive restructuring) or
relaxation. Outcome was evaluated by using measures of
functional impairment, fatigue, mood, and global improvement.
RESULTS: Treatment was completed by 53 patients. Functional
impairment and fatigue improved more in the group that
received cognitive behavior therapy. At final follow-up, 70%
of the completers in the cognitive behavior therapy group
achieved good outcomes (substantial improvement in physical
functioning) compared with 19% of those in the relaxation
group who completed treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Cognitive behavior therapy was more
effective than a relaxation control in the management
of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Improvements were sustained over 6 months of follow-up.