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Cognitive idiosyncrasies among children with the Chronic Fatigue Research (CFS): anomalies in self-reported activity levels

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The possibility that children with the chronic fatigue

syndrome (CFS) and their parents tend to display idiosyncratic

cognitive processing concerning levels of activity was

examined by means of subjective and objective measures of

current activity, together with subjective and objective

measures of desired and expected future activity. The degree

to which subjective reports of current activity level reflect

objectively measured activity level was examined in a group

of children with CFS and a healthy control group.

All

subjects were assessed over a 3-day period by means of

ambulatory activity monitoring, and self-reports and

parent-reports of current activity level were collected by

means of visual analog scales. Analysis of variance revealed

a significant interaction between the method of measurement

(objective versus subjective) and the participant group (CFS

versus Healthy) with the CFS children and their parents

underestimating actual level of activity relative to the

healthy group.

Desired and expected levels of future activity

were also assessed by means of subjective report. Child and

parent expected levels of future activity were compared with

their desired levels. Although expected levels of future

activity were similar in the two groups, the divergence

between expected levels and corresponding desired levels was

significantly greater in the CFS group. These results are

discussed in terms of idiosyncratic cognitive processes,

which are hypothesized to be associated with CFS and which

may play a role in the maintenance of the disorder.

Fry AM, Martin M

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