Self-investigation in adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome: Narrative changes and health improvement

Stefan M. van Geelen*, Coralie E. Fuchs, Gerben Sinnema, Elise M. van de Putte, Rolf van Geel, Hubert J.M. Hermans, Wietse Kuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: A small-scale intervention study into narrative self-investigation in adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Method: The self-confrontation method (SCM) is an instrument to assess and change personal life stories. Forty-two adolescents diagnosed with CFS were included and randomly assigned to either 6 or 12 sessions with the SCM. Twenty-five healthy adolescents were assigned to 6 sessions. Outcome was measured directly after the self-investigation procedure at 4 months. Follow-up measurements were made 10 months later. The Checklist Individual Strength and the Child Health Questionnaire were used to measure changes in fatigue, physical and psychosocial functioning. Results: Self-investigation resulted in significant changes in participants' narratives. Moreover, after self-investigation there was a significant improvement in fatigue, physical and psychosocial functioning for the adolescents with CFS. The patients who completed 12 sessions improved most. At follow-up, the positive effects were maintained. Conclusion: Self-investigation enables a move beyond the symptoms of CFS in an individualized, patient centered way. Narrative transformation seems to contribute to improved physical and psychosocial outcome in adolescent CFS. Practice implications: The SCM allows adolescents to discover (for themselves) factors that might cause or perpetuate their fatigue. The results suggest that self-investigation is a useful instrument in the management of adolescent CFS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-233
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011

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