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Self-critical perfectionism and its relationship to fatigue and pain in the daily flow of life in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome

  • S. Kempke (a1), P. Luyten (a1) (a2), S. Claes (a3), L. Goossens (a4), P. Bekaert (a4), P. Van Wambeke (a4) and B. Van Houdenhove (a3) (a4)...

Research suggests that the personality factor of self-critical or maladaptive perfectionism may be implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). However, it is not clear whether self-critical perfectionism (SCP) also predicts daily symptoms in CFS.


In the present study we investigated whether SCP predicted fatigue and pain over a 14-day period in a sample of 90 CFS patients using a diary method approach. After completing the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire (DEQ) as a measure of SCP, patients were asked each day for 14 days to complete Visual Analogue Scales (VAS) of fatigue, pain and severity of depression. Data were analysed using multilevel analysis.


The results from unconditional models revealed considerable fluctuations in fatigue over the 14 days, suggesting strong temporal variability in fatigue. By contrast, pain was relatively stable over time but showed significant inter-individual differences. Congruent with expectations, fixed-effect models showed that SCP was prospectively associated with higher daily fatigue and pain levels over the 14-day period, even after controlling for levels of depression.


This is the first study to show that SCP predicts both fatigue and pain symptoms in CFS in the daily course of life. Hence, therapeutic interventions aimed at targeting SCP should be considered in the treatment of CFS patients with such features.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: S. Kempke, Department of Psychology, University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. (Email:
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