Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is relatively common and disabling. Over 8000 patients attend adult services each year, yet little is known about the outcome of patients attending NHS services. Investigate the outcome of patients with CFS and what factors predict outcome. Longitudinal patient cohort. We used data from six CFS/ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) specialist services to measure changes in fatigue (Chalder Fatigue Scale), physical function (SF-36), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and pain (visual analogue pain rating scale) between clinical assessment and 8-20 months of follow-up. We used multivariable linear regression to investigate baseline factors associated with outcomes at follow-up. Results: Baseline data obtained at clinical assessment were available for 1643 patients, of whom 834 (51%) had complete follow-up data. There were improvements in fatigue [mean difference from assessment to outcome: -6.8; 95% confidence interval (CI) -7.4 to -6.2; P < 0.001]; physical function (4.4; 95% CI 3.0-5.8; P < 0.001), anxiety (-0.6; 95% CI -0.9 to -0.3; P < 0.001), depression (-1.6; 95% CI -1.9 to -1.4; P < 0.001) and pain (-5.3; 95% CI -7.0 to -3.6; P < 0.001). Worse fatigue, physical function and pain at clinical assessment predicted a worse outcome for fatigue at follow-up. Older age, increased pain and physical function at assessment were associated with poorer physical function at follow-up. Patients who attend NHS specialist CFS/ME services can expect similar improvements in fatigue, anxiety and depression to participants receiving cognitive behavioural therapy and graded exercise therapy in a recent trial, but are likely to experience less improvement in physical function. Outcomes were predicted by fatigue, disability and pain at assessment.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) [grant number DHCS/2008/ 08/08/06; Clinician Scientist Award issued by the NIHR to E.C.] and by Action for M.E. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health. Action for M.E. is a member of the Steering Group for the NOD and was therefore involved in decisions on which data should be collected. Action for M.E. did not contribute to the study design, data analysis, interpretation of the results, or writing of the manuscript and was not involved in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.