Online Therapy Proves Highly Effective in Treating Teen Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
A new study suggests that online therapy appears to be highly effective in improving symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in teens.
The study concludes that teens with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, who received upwards of six months of online therapy are far more likely to recover from their symptoms; 63 percent of the study’s participants in the Fatigue In Teenagers on the Internet (FITNET) program reported recovery.
“With FITNET, effective treatment is within reach for any adolescent with chronic fatigue syndrome. These findings stress the need for proper and rapid diagnosis and making medical professionals aware of adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome and the treatment options,” the study’s lead author, Sanne Nijhof, MD, from the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands, said in a press release.
For the study, the researchers recruited 135 teens diagnosed with CFS between the ages of 12 and 18. 68 were enrolled in the FITNET online therapy program, while the remaining 67 were given the usual in-person care. The FITNET program uses cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches patients how to change how they think about and respond to situations.
After 6 months, 85 percent of teens receiving online therapy reported no longer experiencing severe fatigue, compared to only 27 percent for teens receiving usual behavioral therapy. Additionally, 78 percent of adolescents receiving online therapy reported normal physical functioning, while only 20 percent of teens receiving usual care reported the same.
Web-based treatment, the authors note, has general advantages. It is available at any time and avoids face-to-face treatment barriers, including treatment delays due to poor accessibility, inconvenience of scheduling appointments, missing school or work, and travelling to or from a clinician’s office. In addition, they note, it reduces treatment time and costs.