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A Comparison of Patients With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Two “Ideologically” Contrasting Clinics

Van Houdenhove, Boudewijn MD, PhD*; Van Hoof, Elke PhD†‡§; Becq, Katrien MA; Kempke, Stefan MA; Luyten, Patrick PhD; De Meirleir, Kenny MD, PhD§

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: May 2009 - Volume 197 - Issue 5 - p 348-353
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181a2081f
Original Article

Aim of the present study was to compare chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients, attending 2 “ideologically” contrasting clinics for CFS, on various patient and illness characteristics. Fifty-nine CFS patients of each clinic, located in Leuven and Brussels (Belgium), participated. Patients did not differ with regard to age, levels of fatigue, psychopathology, and self-efficacy. However, patients from the psychosocially-oriented clinic had a lower level of education, reported more progressive illness onset, and attributed their illness more to psychological causes. Patients in the biologically-oriented clinic reported more pain, and showed higher levels of social functioning, motivation and vitality, as well as fewer limitations related to emotional problems. It is concluded that CFS patients attending the 2 clinics could not be distinguished along dualistic biological/psychosocial lines, but those reporting sudden illness onset and making somatic attributions were more likely to be represented in the biologically-oriented clinic.

*Department of Liaison Psychiatry and Chronic Fatigue Reference Centre, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium; †Faculty of Medicine, University Hasselt, Belgium; ‡Department of Biological and Cognitive Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Free University of Brussels, Belgium; §Department of Human Physiology, Faculty of Human Exercise and Human Education, Free University of Brussels, Belgium; and ∥Department of Psychology, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.

Send reprint requests to Boudewijn Van Houdenhove, MD, PhD, Department of Liaison Psychiatry, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Herestraat 49, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium. E-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.