Nonpharmacological interventions for treating fatigue in adolescents: A systematic review and narrative synthesis of randomised controlled trials

Nina Higson-Sweeney, Aida Mikkola, Lucie Smith, Jawairya Shafique, Luke Draper, Kate Cooper, Barnaby D. Dunn, Maria E. Loades

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)


Objective: Fatigue is common in adolescence and can be highly disabling if experienced persistently, with adverse psychosocial outcomes. There is a need to better understand what nonpharmacological treatments are available for adolescents suffering with persistent fatigue. The current review systematically identified, synthesised, and evaluated the evidence regarding nonpharmacological interventions for fatigue in adolescents, focusing on evaluating effectiveness, describing intervention components, and mapping interventions onto the behaviour change technique taxonomy (BCTT).
Methods: CENTRAL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Web of Science were systematically searched for articles including (1) adolescents aged 10-19 years old, (2) fatigue as a primary or secondary outcome, (3) nonpharmacological interventions, and (4) randomised controlled trials. Study screening, data extraction, quality assessment, and BCTT mapping were performed independently by two reviewers. Findings were presented as a narrative synthesis, with interventions ranked by promise.
Results: 5,626 papers were identified and double-screened, resulting in the inclusion of 21 articles reporting 16 trials. Five interventions were classified as likely promising. Interventions often involved psychoeducation, cognitive behavioural therapy, and/or physical activity, incorporating various BCTT domains, most commonly shaping knowledge, repetition and substitution, and goals and planning. However, there did not seem to be any observable differences between fatigue-targeted and non-fatigue-targeted interventions. Overall study quality was mixed, particularly in relation to power and outcome measures.
Conclusion: There are several promising nonpharmacological interventions for adolescent fatigue, although further work is needed to determine effectiveness. Future trials need to ensure design rigour, focusing on adequate powering, validated outcome measures, and adhering to best practice reporting guidelines.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111070
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Early online date31 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022


  • Adolescence
  • Adolescent health
  • Fatigue
  • Psychosocial intervention
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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