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J Adolesc Health. 2013 Aug;53(2):154-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.03.009. Epub 2013 May 1.

Interventions in pediatric chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a systematic review.

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Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



A range of interventions have been used for the management of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) in children and adolescents. Currently, debate exists as to the effectiveness of these different management strategies. The objective of this review was to synthesize and critically appraise the literature on interventions for pediatric CFS/ME.


CINAHL, PsycINFO and Medline databases were searched to retrieve relevant studies of intervention outcomes in children and/or adolescents diagnosed with CFS/ME. Two reviewers independently selected articles and appraised the quality on the basis of predefined criteria.


A total of 24 articles based on 21 studies met the inclusion criteria. Methodological design and quality were variable. The majority assessed behavioral interventions (10 multidisciplinary rehabilitation; 9 psychological interventions; 1 exercise intervention; 1 immunological intervention). There was marked heterogeneity in participant and intervention characteristics, and outcome measures used across studies. The strongest evidence was for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)-based interventions, with weaker evidence for multidisciplinary rehabilitation. Limited information exists on the maintenance of intervention effects.


Evidence for the effectiveness of interventions for children and adolescents with CFS/ME is still emerging. Methodological inadequacies and inconsistent approaches limit interpretation of findings. There is some evidence that children and adolescents with CFS/ME benefit from particular interventions; however, there remain gaps in the current evidence base.


Adolescent; Child; Chronic fatigue syndrome; Cognitive behavior therapy; Fatigue; Intervention; Myalgic encephalomyelitis; Rehabilitation

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