Waking Up From Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue may be effectively treated with web based cognitive behavioral therapy

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) it is a major cause of extended school absences for adolescents. Face-to-face treatment can be effective in treating CFS, but a new internet based treatment may improve care.

The program, called ‘Chronic Fatigue in Teenagers on the interNet’ or FITNET, could allow greater accessibility to treatment at a lower cost.

Additionally, the program has proven to be more successful than traditional care for CFS.

"Ask your doctor if cognitive therapy can help you."

Sanne Nijhof, M.D., of the University Medical Centre Utrecht in The Netherlands, says that "with FITNET, effective treatment is within reach for any adolescent with CFS. These findings stress the need for proper and rapid diagnosis and making medical professionals aware of adolescent CFS and the treatment options."

The study authors report that “web-based treatment has general advantages: it is available at any time, avoids face-to-face treatment barriers (i.e., treatment delay due to poor accessibility, inconvenience of scheduling appointments, missing school or work, traveling to or from a clinician's office), and reduces treatment time and costs."

The study included 135 adolescents who had CFS for almost 2 years. Sixty-eight were assigned to FITNET and 67 were assigned to traditional treatment. Traditional treatment consisted of individual or group cognitive therapy and graded exercise therapy.

The group assigned to FITNET had access to 21 interactive online modules and weekly e-consultation by therapists.

After 6 months 85% of those assigned to FITNET reported less severe fatigue and 78% reported more normal physical functioning. 75% had returned to full-time school attendence.

In the traditional treatment group 27% reported less severe fatigue and 20% reported more normal physical functioning. Only 16% had returned to school full-time.

The researchers hope that the FITNET treatment can now be implemented on a broader scale.

The study was published in the journal Lancet on March 1st, 2012.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 5, 2012
Last Updated:
March 6, 2012