Longitudinal changes associated with improvement in chronic fatigue patients

Tertiary care patients with chronic fatigue were followed for

2.5 years to determine if changes in physical and

psychological status were associated with improvements in

chronic fatigue, physical functioning, and return to work.

Results indicated that improvement in psychological symptoms,

DSM-III-R disorders, physical examination signs, and changes

in whether the patient continued to meet criteria for chronic

fatigue syndrome (CFS) were associated with recovery from

fatigue, improved functioning, and return to work. Patients

who never met CFS criteria or only met criteria at the initial

assessment, reported improved physical functioning. Patients

whose psychiatric disorders and physical examination signs

were still present at a mean follow-up time of 2.5 years were

more likely to have persistent fatigue and work disability.

Loss of physical examination signs was a significant

independent predictor of improved functioning and return to

work. These results suggest that psychiatric status, as well

as physical status, are associated with recovery from chronic

fatigue.

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