Internet-Based Therapy for Adolescents With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Long-term Follow-up

Department of Pediatrics, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, and.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 05/2013; 131(6). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-2007
Source: PubMed


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is known to be an effective treatment of adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), but its availability is limited. Fatigue in Teenagers on the Internet (FITNET), an Internet-based CBT program for adolescents with CFS, has been developed as an alternative to face-to-face CBT. Recently, its short-term effectiveness has been proven in a randomized clinical trial. Here we aimed to assess the long-term outcome of CFS in adolescents after FITNET treatment and after usual care. In addition, factors related to recovery at long-term follow-up (LTFU) for adolescents treated with the FITNET program were investigated.

The study was an LTFU of participants of the FITNET trial. Data were completed for 112 (88.2%) of 127 approached FITNET study participants. Primary outcomes were fatigue severity (Checklist Individual Strength-20), physical functioning (87-item Child Health Questionnaire), and school/work attendance.

After a mean follow-up of 2.7 years, 66 (58.9%) adolescents had recovered from CFS. Most adolescents who recovered directly after treatment with FITNET were still recovered at LTFU. At LTFU there was no difference between the recovery rates for the different treatment strategies (original randomization: FITNET [64%] versus any form of usual care [52.8%]). Per additional month of "pretreatment disease duration," the odds for recovery were 4% lower (odds ratio: 0.96; 95% confidence interval: 0.93-0.99; P = .016), and per added point on "focus on bodily symptoms" (Body Consciousness Scale) of the mother (0-20 points) the odds for recovery were 11% lower (odds ratio: 0.89; 95% confidence interval: 0.80-0.99; P = .029).

The short-term effectiveness of Internet-based CBT on adolescent CFS is maintained at LTFU. At LTFU, usual care led to similar recovery rates, although these rates were achieved at a slower pace.

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    • "The role of hypocortisolism in chronic fatigue syndrome 203 confounders of the association between HPA-axis dysfunction and CFS in adolescents. Pre-treatment disease duration negatively influences treatment outcome in adolescent CFS (Nijhof et al., 2013). However, there was no relationship between pre-treatment disease duration and the change in HPA-axis function after treatment, suggesting that disease duration is a predictor of recovery but has no influence on HPA-axis function. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background There is accumulating evidence of hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis hypofunction in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). However, knowledge of this hypofunction has so far come exclusively from research in adulthood, and its clinical significance remains unclear. The objective of the current study was to assess the role of the HPA-axis in adolescent CFS and recovery from adolescent CFS. Method Before treatment, we compared the salivary cortisol awakening response of 108 diagnosed adolescent CFS patients with that of a reference group of 38 healthy peers. Salivary cortisol awakening response was measured again after 6 months of treatment in CFS patients. Results Pre-treatment salivary cortisol levels were significantly lower in CFS-patients than in healthy controls. After treatment recovered patients had a significant rise in salivary cortisol output attaining normalization, whereas non-recovered patients improved slightly, but not significantly. The hypocortisolism found in CFS-patients was significantly correlated to the amount of sleep. Logistic regression analysis showed that an increase of one standard deviation in the difference between pre- and post-treatment salivary cortisol awakening response was associated with a 93% higher odds of recovery (adjusted OR 1.93 (1.18 to 3.17), p = 0.009). Pre-treatment salivary cortisol did not predict recovery. Conclusions Hypocortisolism is associated with adolescent CFS. It is not pre-treatment cortisol but its change to normalization that is associated with treatment success. We suggest that this finding may have clinical implications regarding the adaptation of future treatment strategies.
    Psychoneuroendocrinology 04/2014; 42:199–206. DOI:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.01.017 · 4.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The diagnosis chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) was conceptualized in the mid-1980s. It is a clinically defined condition characterized by severe and disabling new onset fatigue with at least four additional symptoms: impaired memory or concentration, sore throat, tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes, muscle pain, multi-joint pain, new headaches, unrefreshing sleep or post-exertion malaise. Chronic fatigue syndrome in adolescents is a rare condition compared to symptomatic fatigue. The estimated prevalence of adolescent CFS ranges between 0.11 and 1.29 % in Dutch, British, and US populations. Diagnosis of the chronic fatigue syndrome is established through exclusion of other medical and psychiatric causes of chronic fatiguing illness. Taking a full clinical history and a full physical examination are therefore vital. In adolescence, CFS is associated with considerable school absence with long-term detrimental effects on academic and social development. One of the most successful potential treatments for adolescents with CFS is cognitive behavioural therapy, which has been shown to be effective after 6 months in two thirds of the adolescents with CFS. This treatment effect sustains at 2-3-year follow-up. In conclusion, the diagnosis CFS should be considered in any adolescent patient with severe disabling long-lasting fatigue. Cognitive behavioural therapy is effective in 60-70 % of the patients. Prompt diagnosis favours the prognosis.
    European Journal of Pediatrics 06/2013; 172(10). DOI:10.1007/s00431-013-2058-8 · 1.89 Impact Factor

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