Differences in physical functioning between relatively active and passive patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Desiree C. W. M. Vos-Vromans*, Ivan P. J. Huijnen, Albere J. A. Koke, Henk A. M. Seelen, J. Andre Knottnerus, Rob J. E. M. Smeets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: According to the Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) protocol for patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), therapists are advised to categorize patients in relatively active and passive patients. However, evidence to support the differences in physical functioning between these subgroups is limited. Using the baseline data from a multicentre randomized controlled trial (FatiGo), the differences in actual and perceived physical functioning between active and passive patients with CFS were evaluated. Methods: Sixty patients, who received CBT during the FatiGo trial were included. Based on the expert opinion and using the definitions of subgroups defined in the CBT protocols, the therapist categorized the patient. Data from an activity monitor was used to calculate actual physical functioning, physical activity, daily uptime, activity fluctuations and duration of rest during daily life. Perceived physical functioning was assessed by measuring physical activity, physical functioning and functional impairment with the Checklist Individual Strength, Short Form-36 and Sickness-Impact Profile 8. Results: Relatively active patients have a significantly higher daily uptime and show significantly less fluctuations in activities between days. Passive patients experience a significantly lower level of physical functioning and feel more functionally impaired in their mobility. However, no significant differences were found in the other actual or perceived physical functioning indices. Conclusions: A clear difference in actual and perceived physical functioning between relatively active and passive patients with CFS as judged by their therapists could not be found. Future research is needed to form a consensus on how to categorize subgroups of patients with CFS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-254
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • CFS
  • CBT
  • Physical functioning
  • Activity monitor
  • Physical activity
  • Functional impairment

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