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Br J Psychiatry. 2012 Sep;201(3):227-32. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.107474. Epub 2012 Jul 26.

Depressive symptoms and pragmatic rehabilitation for chronic fatigue syndrome.

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  • 1University of Manchester, School of Psychological Sciences, Coupland 1 Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK.



Previous research has suggested that depressed mood may predict outcome and moderate response to treatment in chronic fatigue syndrome, although findings have differed between studies.


To examine potential moderators of response to pragmatic rehabilitation v. general practitioner treatment as usual in a recent randomised trial for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome in primary care (IRCTN74156610).


Simple regressions, with weighting adjustments to allow for missing data, were calculated. Demographic, medical and psychological variables, and treatment arm, were entered separately and as an interaction term. The outcome variable in each case was change in Chalder Fatigue Scale scores, from baseline to 1-year follow-up, our primary outcome point.


Longer illness durations predicted poorer outcome across the two treatment arms. For patients allocated to pragmatic rehabilitation compared with those allocated to treatment as usual, higher levels of depressive symptoms at baseline were associated with smaller improvements in fatigue (P = 0.022).


For patients in primary care with higher levels of depressive symptoms, either more intensive or longer pragmatic rehabilitation, or cognitive-behavioural therapy, may be required in order to show a significant improvement in fatigue.

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