An exploratory study of discrepancies between objective and subjective measurement of the physical activity level in female patients with chronic fatigue syndrome

K. Vergauwen, I.P.J. Huijnen, R.J.E.M. Smeets, D. Kos, I. van Eupen, J. Nijs, M. Meeus*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objective: To explore the ability of a self-report activity diary to measure the physical activity level (PAL) in female patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and whether illness-related complaints, health-related quality of life domains (HRQOL) or demographic factors are associated with discrepancies between selfreported and objectively measured PAL. Methods: Sixty-six patients with CFS, recruited from the chronic fatigue clinic of a university hospital, and twenty matched healthy controls wore an accelerometer (Actical) for six consecutive days and registered their activities in an activity diary in the same period. Participants? demographic data was collected and all subjects completed the CFS Symptom List (illness-related complaints) daily and Short-Form-36 (HRQOL domains) during the first and second appointment. Results: A significant, but weak association between the activity diary and Actical was present in patients with CFS (rs = 0.376 and rs = 0.352; p < 0.001) and a moderately strong association in healthy controls (rs = 0.605; and rs = 0.644; p < 0.001) between week and weekend days, respectively. A linear mixed model identified a negative association between age and the discrepancy between the self-reported and objective measure of PA in both patients with CFS and healthy controls. Conclusion: The activity diary showed limited ability to register the PAL in female patients with CFS. The discrepancy between measures was not explained by illness-related complaints, HRQOL domains or demographic factors. The activity diary cannot replace objective activity monitoring measured with an accelerometer, but may provide additional information about the perceived activity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110417
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • Accelerometry
  • Assessment
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Physical activity
  • Self-report
  • Validity

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