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Patient Educ Couns. 2007 Sep;68(1):29-32. Epub 2007 May 22.

The impact of informational interventions about cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome on GPs referral behavior.

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Expert Centre Chronic Fatigue, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands.



This study investigated the impact of an informational intervention among general practitioners (GPs) about a new treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in a mental health center (MHC). The outcome measures concerned GPs knowledge and attitudes towards CFS and their actual referrals of CFS patients to this new treatment setting.


Three hundred and one GPs, who all had received written information about CFS four times, and who partly had also visited an informational group session, completed a short questionnaire survey on CFS knowledge and attitudes. Referral data were obtained from the mental health center.


During 16 months 22% of all GPs in the concerning region had referred at least one CFS patient. Concerning knowledge and attitude, the survey results showed that 70% of the GPs had remembered the intervention's main message, namely the new treatment possibility. These informed GPs reported better knowledge and more positive attitudes towards CFS than the non-informed GPs, who had not seen and read the intervention's information.


This study showed that disseminating written materials can be a useful method for stimulating GPs to refer CFS patients for CBT.


In future implementation projects concerning CBT for CFS (or other 'new' treatments for a disputed illness) in a MHC or other institution, the informational intervention evaluated here can be a suitable and efficient method to inform GPs and let them refer patients.

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