Get access

Adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome and somatoform disorders: A prospective clinical study

Authors

  • Emily Klineberg,

    Corresponding author
    1. Academic Department of Adolescent Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    • Correspondence:Dr Emily Klineberg, Academic Department of Adolescent Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Locked Bag 4001, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia. Fax: 02 9845 2517; email: emily.klineberg@health.nsw.gov.au

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Alexandra Rushworth,

    1. Department of Adolescent Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Helen Bibby,

    1. Department of Adolescent Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • David Bennett,

    1. Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Department of Adolescent Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kate Steinbeck,

    1. Academic Department of Adolescent Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Susan Towns

    1. Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Department of Adolescent Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Conflict of interest: There are no conflicts of interest.

Abstract

Aim

To examine and compare the presenting characteristics and the change in the physical and psychosocial functioning of adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or somatoform disorders who have received an adaptable multidisciplinary intervention over a 12-month period.

Methods

Fifty adolescents presenting to the Complex Adolescent Clinic at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, Australia were assessed. Their physical and psychosocial functioning was rated by the adolescents and their parents using the Child Health Questionnaire. Participants were assessed at baseline, 4 months and 12 months after initiating treatment. Analyses examined whether diagnosis and/or illness precipitants were related to treatment outcome.

Results

Adolescents with both CFS and somatoform disorders demonstrated improvement in physical and psychosocial functioning over the first 4 months of treatment, sustained at 12-month follow-up. A diagnosis of CFS was associated with poorer physical functioning over time and a trend towards a longer illness time course compared with somatoform disorder. Adjustment for a physical precipitant reduced the association between diagnosis and physical functioning. Those who had a physical precipitant to their illness had significantly poorer physical functioning over time than those who did not, regardless of diagnostic category. Diagnosis and physical precipitant were not associated with psychosocial functioning.

Conclusions

Improvement in adolescent physical and psychosocial functioning over time suggests that a multidisciplinary treatment model may be effective for varied complex medico-psychosocial presentations, irrespective of diagnosis and illness precipitant. Illness precipitant may have a greater influence on treatment outcome than diagnostic category.

Ancillary