The effectiveness of activity pacing interventions for people with chronic fatigue syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Disability and Rehabilitation
Taylor & Francis
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Mason Foundation [MAS2015F038, 2016] / National Health and Medical Research Council, Practitioner Fellowship / Cancer Institute New South Wales Early Career Fellowship [2021/ECF1310]
NHMRC Number : 1043067
Purpose: To investigate whether activity pacing interventions (alone or in conjunction with other evidence-based interventions) improve fatigue, physical function, psychological distress, depression, and anxiety in people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Materials and methods: Seven databases were searched until 13 August 2022 for randomised controlled trials that included activity pacing interventions for CFS and a validated measure of fatigue. Secondary outcomes were physical function, psychological distress, depression, and anxiety. Two reviewers independently screened studies by title, abstract and full text. Methodological quality was evaluated using the PEDro scale. Random-effects meta-analyses were performed in R. Results: 6390 articles were screened, with 14 included. Good overall study quality was supported by PEDro scale ratings. Activity pacing interventions were effective (Hedges’ g (95% CI)) at reducing fatigue ( – 0.52 ( – 0.73 to − 0.32)), psychological distress (–0.37 ( – 0.51 to − 0.24)) and depression ( – 0.29 ( – 0.49 to − 0.09)) and improving physical function (mean difference 7.18 (3.17 – 11.18)) when compared to no treatment/usual care. The extent of improvement was greater for interventions that encouraged graded escalation of physical activities and cognitive activities. Conclusion: Activity pacing interventions are effective in reducing fatigue and psychological distress and improving physical function in CFS, particularly when people are encouraged to gradually increase activities. Registration: PROSPERO CRD42016036087. IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION: - A key feature of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a prolonged post-exertional exacerbation of symptoms following physical activities or cognitive activities. - Activity pacing is a common strategy often embedded in multi-component management programs for CFS. - Activity pacing interventions are effective in reducing fatigue and psychological distress and improving physical function in CFS, particularly when patients are encouraged to gradually increase their activities. - Healthcare professionals embedding activity pacing as part of treatment should work collaboratively with patients to ensure successful, individualised self-management strategies.