Cognitive behavioural therapy versus multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial (FatiGo)

Desiree C. W. M. Vos-Vromans*, Rob J. E. M. Smeets, Leonie J. M. Rijnders, Rene R. M. Gorrissen, Menno Pont, Albere J. A. Koke, Minou W. M. G. C. Hitters, Silvia M. A. A. Evers, Andre J. Knottnerus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome experience extreme fatigue, which often leads to substantial limitations of occupational, educational, social and personal activities. Currently, there is no consensus regarding the treatment. Patients try many different therapies to overcome their fatigue. Although there is no consensus, cognitive behavioural therapy is seen as one of the most effective treatments. Little is known about multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment, a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy with principles of mindfulness, gradual increase of activities, body awareness therapy and pacing. The difference in effectiveness and cost-effectiveness between multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment and cognitive behavioural therapy is as yet unknown. The FatiGo (Fatigue-Go) trial aims to compare the effects of both treatment approaches in outpatient rehabilitation on fatigue severity and quality of life in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Methods: One hundred twenty patients who meet the criteria of chronic fatigue syndrome, fulfil the inclusion criteria and sign the informed consent form will be recruited. Both treatments take 6 months to complete. The outcome will be assessed at 6 and 12 months after the start of treatment. Two weeks after the start of treatment, expectancy and credibility will be measured, and patients will be asked to write down their personal goals and score their current performance on these goals on a visual analogue scale. At 6 and 14 weeks after the start of treatment, the primary outcome and three potential mediators-self-efficacy, causal attributions and present-centred attention-awareness-will be measured. Primary outcomes are fatigue severity and quality of life. Secondary outcomes are physical activity, psychological symptoms, self-efficacy, causal attributions, impact of disease on emotional and physical functioning, present-centred attention-awareness, life satisfaction, patient personal goals, self-rated improvement and economic costs. The primary analysis will be based on intention to treat, and longitudinal analysis of covariance will be used to compare treatments. Discussion: The results of the trial will provide information on the effects of cognitive behavioural therapy and multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment at 6 and 12 months follow-up, mediators of the outcome, cost-effectiveness, cost-utility, and the influence of treatment expectancy and credibility on the effectiveness of both treatments in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2012


  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • CBT
  • Multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Fatigue
  • Quality of life

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