Prevalence and Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME and Co-morbid Severe Health Anxiety

Jolene Daniels, Paul Salkovskis, Hannah Parker

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a debilitating condition that affects 0.2–0.4% of the population. Health focussed anxiety is common across medical conditions, and may be relevant in CFS/ME. This study sought to identify the prevalence and impact of health anxiety (HA) in CFS/ME and evaluate the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for HA in CFS/ME. Cross-sectional questionnaire methods and case-series design were used to achieve study aims. Analysis indicated that 41.9% of the CFS/ME clinic sample experienced threshold levels of health anxiety, which was associated with elevated symptom severity across several dimensions. Stepwise multiple regression indicated physical functioning and depression accounted for 23.8% of variance in fatigue; depression, fatigue and HA, accounted for 32.9% of variance in physical functioning. Large effect sizes and clinically significant changes were generated in the treatment study. HA is common in CFS/ME and likely to exacerbate fatigue and physical functioning. This study identifies HA as an important target for treatment, trial findings should be further replicated on a larger scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date24 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Descriptive survey study.
  • Health anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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