A recent study undertaken by a group of Dutch researchers and published in journal The Lancet has revealed that individuals who were given psychotherapy treatment over the internet had reported a recovery almost eight times better than individuals who underwent standard care.
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome remains unknown, but what is clear is that treatment methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can have a postivie effect in certain cases.
However, whilst the therapy can prove a powerful treatment method, it may be inaccessible to some CFS sufferers.
With this in mind, a group of researchers developed an online psychotherapy programme called Fitnet, the idea of which was to replicate fact-to-face CBT, with a qualified therapist waiting in the wings to provide email support.
135 young people suffering with CFS were involved in the study, with 50% undergoing standard treatment consisting of group psychotherapy and exercise therapy, whilst the other 50% were enrolled in Fitnet.
Six months down the line and the Fitnet group reported no severe fatigue, in comparison to 27% in the standard treatment group.
One year on and similar results were seen in the standard treatment group, who switched to the Fitnet treatment after six months.
Whilst the exact reasons as to why the Fitnet method proved such a success is unknown, it is thought it could be related in part to the fact that the treatment was more intensive than that of the standard treatment. Fitnet participants logged onto the software an average of 255 times, and sent therapists an average of 90 emails – amounting to far more ‘treatment time’ to that of the standard healthcare route.
Professors Trudie Chalder from King’s College London and Peter White from Barts and the London School of Medicine both agreed that the Dutch researchers should be congratulated on their findings.
“They have added to an increasing evidence base which shows that therapist-aided, internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy is an effective treatment for many similar disorders.” They said.
However, both Chalder and White concluded that the response to conventional therapy did seem curiously low, and that there was no assurances that adult patients would react to the treatment in the same way.
To find our more about chronic fatigue syndrome and the various treatment methods, please visit our fact-sheet.
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