Background: What adolescents think about symptoms and what they do in response could contribute to fatigue maintenance. We compared the cognitive and behavioural responses of adolescents and their parents with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS; N = 121) and asthma (N = 27) and explored the predictive value of these variables on fatigue and functioning in CFS. Method: Consecutively referred adolescents with CFS were recruited. Questionnaires, completed by adolescents and parents, assessed fatigue, functioning, mood and cognitive and behavioural responses to symptoms. Age-matched adolescents with asthma completed the same questionnaires. Adolescents with CFS completed questionnaires again approximately 3 months later. Results: Adolescents with CFS scored higher on all unhelpful cognitive and behavioural subscales than adolescents with asthma. Parents’ cognitions about their child’s symptoms were associated with adolescent’s own cognitions. Unhelpful cognitive and behavioural responses, particularly, damage beliefs, predicted subsequent fatigue in CFS, and all-or-nothing behaviour, catastrophising and damage beliefs predicted subsequent physical functioning. Conclusion: Unhelpful cognitive and behavioural responses to symptoms appear to be particularly prominent in adolescents with CFS. There is some consistency but not a perfect match between cognitive and behavioural responses to symptoms reported by adolescents and their parents. These responses could be contributing to fatigue maintenance and disability.
Bibliographical noteThe acceptance date for this record is provisional and based upon the month of publication for the article.
- cognitive behavioural therapy
- damage beliefs
- psychosocial functioning