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Internet-based CBT improves fatigue severity, physical function and school attendance in adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome

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Question: Is the ‘Fatigue In Teenagers on the interNET’ (FITNET) internet-based cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) intervention more effective than usual care for adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

Patients: 135 adolescents aged 12–18 years with CFS (diagnosed by a paediatrician, and meeting US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CFS criteria). Exclusion criteria: primary depression, anxiety disorder and suicidal risk.

Setting: One tertiary treatment centre, The Netherlands; from January 2008 to February 2010.

Intervention: Internet-based CBT intervention (FITNET) compared with usual care. The intervention consisted of a psychoeducational section and a CBT section. The CBT section comprised 21 interactive modules and took an average of 26.2 weeks to complete. FITNET participants received support from trained cognitive behaviour psychotherapists through e-consults on a weekly or fortnightly basis, and were able to send emails at any stage during the intervention. Parents of participating adolescents took part in a separate but similar less-detailed internet-based programme. Usual care involved individual or group-based rehabilitation programmes, face-to-face CBT or graded exercise treatment or both. Adolescents who …

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