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Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled treatment trial of fluoxetine and graded exercise for chronic fatigue syndrome†

  • Alison J. Wearden (a1), Richard K. Morriss (a2), Ricky Mullis (a3), P. L. Strickland, David J. Pearson (a3), Louis Appleby (a1), Iain T. Campbell (a4) and Julie A. Morris (a5)...
Abstract
Background

The Joint Working Group of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Psychiatrists and General Practitioners (1996) recommended graded exercise and antidepressants for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. We assessed efficacy and acceptability of these treatments.

Method

Six-month prospective randomised placebo and therapist contact time controlled trial with allocation to one of four treatment cells: exercise and 20 mg fluoxetine, exercise and placebo drug, appointments only and 20 mg fluoxetine, appointments and placebo drug. Drug treatment was double blind and patients were blind to assignment to exercise or appointments.

Results

Ninety-six (71%) of 136 patients completed the trial. Patients were more likely to drop out of exercise than non-exercise treatment (P=0.05). In an intention to treat analysis, exercise resulted in fewer patients with case level fatigue than appointments only at 26 weeks (12 (18%) v. 4 (6%) respectively P=0.025) and improvement in functional work capacity at 12(P=0.005) and 26 weeks (P=0.03). Fluoxetine had a significant effect on depression at week 12 only (P=0.04). Exercise significantly improved health perception (P=0.012) and fatigue (P=0.028) at 28 weeks.

Conclusions

Graded exercise produced improvements in functional work capacity and fatigue, while fluoxetine improved depression only.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr Richard Morriss, Guild NHS Trust, Royal Preston Hospital, Sharoe Green Lane, Preston PR2 9HT. Fax: 01772 710772
Footnotes
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†.

See commentary pp. 491–492, this issue.

Footnotes
References
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
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Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled treatment trial of fluoxetine and graded exercise for chronic fatigue syndrome†

  • Alison J. Wearden (a1), Richard K. Morriss (a2), Ricky Mullis (a3), P. L. Strickland, David J. Pearson (a3), Louis Appleby (a1), Iain T. Campbell (a4) and Julie A. Morris (a5)...
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