OBJECTIVE–To examine the predictors of long term outcome for
patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome.
SUBJECTS–139 subjects previously enrolled in two
treatment trials; 103 (74%) were reassessed a mean of 3.2
years after start of the trials.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES–Age at onset, duration
of illness, psychological and immunological status at initial
assessment. Ongoing symptom severity, levels of disability,
and immunological function at follow up.
had improved but only six reported no current symptoms. An
alternative medical diagnosis had been made in two and
psychiatric illness diagnosed in 20. The assignment of a
primary psychiatric diagnosis at follow up and the strength of
the belief that a physical disease process explained all
symptoms at entry to the trials both predicted poor outcome.
Age at onset of illness, duration of illness, neuroticism,
premorbid psychiatric diagnoses, and cell mediated immune
function did not predict outcome.
patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome improve, a
substantial proportion remain functionally impaired.
Psychological factors such as illness attitudes and coping
style seem more important predictors of long term outcome than
immunological or demographic variables.
Wilson A, Hickie I, Lloyd A, Hadzi-Pavlovic D, Boughton C, Dwyer J,