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Keywords:

  • chronic fatigue syndrome;
  • myalgic encephalomyelitis;
  • prognosis;
  • follow-up studies;
  • recovery

Objective

This study sought to examine long-term health, symptom, and disability outcomes among patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) by comparing those diagnosed with CFS 25 years ago with healthy controls.

Method

Of the 25 participants diagnosed with CFS 25 years ago, 5 self-reported that they maintained a diagnosis of CFS, while 20 reported no longer having a diagnosis. These two groups were compared with healthy controls on outcomes related to functioning and symptom severity.

Results

Those who remitted from CFS showed significantly more impairment on 21 out of 23 outcomes compared with controls. On 17 outcomes, those who remitted had nonsignificant differences in impairment compared to those who maintained a CFS diagnosis.

Conclusions

Findings from this study suggest that over time many individuals will not maintain a CFS diagnosis but will not return to their premorbid level of functioning.