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Thursday, 01 March 2012 12:31

Internet Behavioural Therapy – more effective for Teens with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Internet-based behavioral therapy appears to be a highly effective new tool for the treatment of teenagers with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), according to a new study from the Netherlands.

New generation lives in the web world, they breathe, eat, see world through internet, and now the internet behavioural therapy may help them to get relief from pain also. A study conducted by researchers from Netherland shows eight time higher recovery rate among teens with CFS who received behavioural therapy through web in compare to teens who received traditional face- to face behavioural therapy. Even the improvement in symptoms persisted over an additional six months of follow-up- WebMD Health News

Earlier research has shown Internet-delivered behavioural therapy to be effective for the treatment of depression, but the study is the first to explore its use for chronic fatigue syndrome suggest the study researcher Sanne L. Nijhof, MD, of the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. She explains” teens may be particularly responsive to web-based behavioral treatments because they have grown up using the Internet. So it is not terribly surprising that they would embrace a therapy delivered in this way”.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (also called CFS) is a disorder without a known cause, although CFS may be related to a previous infection.  Patient experiences chronic fatigue without any known reason or explanation for six months or more, and may have associated cognitive difficulties with severe muscle or joint pain, lymph node pain and headache as well.

The talk therapy has been found effective in relieving the symptoms in both adults and teens. However,  due to  shortage of qualified -specialised behavioural therapists the use of behavioural therapy is limited..

The study by Nijhof and colleagues included 135 teenagers who had CFS symptoms for close to two years before enrolment. Sixty-eight teens received the Internet-delivered behavioral therapy, which was developed by the research team, and 67 received individual and group behavioral therapy or an exercise-based therapy that has also been shown to be effective for treating chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. The web-based treatment lasted an average of 26 weeks and included a 21-module educational component and regular email interactions between patients and specially trained therapists. Parents were also asked to interact with the therapists.

Patients were able to log in and send emails to their therapists at any time. Therapists had a set time to respond, but were also available by email and telephone during emergencies.Treatment progression was monitored by regular email contacts between therapists, patients, and their parents. Questionnaires were used to measure improvements in fatigue and other aspects of patient well-being, and school records were reviewed to assess school attendance.

After six months,

  • Eighty-five percent of teens whose treatment was delivered online reported no longer having severe fatigue symptoms, compared to 27% of teens treated with usual care.
  • Seventy-eight percent of the web-treated teens reported normal physical function at six months, compared to 20% of the teens treated with usual care.
  • Seventy-five percent of the teens whose therapy was Internet-based were no longer missing school, compared to 16% of the others.

Web-based behavioral therapy may have important advantages over traditional therapy in situations where flexible treatment times are needed and when there are barriers to delivering face-to-face care.

Experts view:
What is exciting about this trial is that these researchers have made the delivery of an effective treatment for CFS more convenient, more accessible, and possibly more cost-effective,” says longtime chronic fatigue researcher Peter D. White, MD, of St. Bartholomew’s and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

White tells WebMD that the greater accessibility and more frequent interaction with therapists may explain the better results for Internet-delivered treatment.

Patients sent their therapists an average of 66 emails over the course of treatment, and therapists sent an average 29 email “consults” per patient. He adds that if greater accessibility improves outcomes, an Internet-based treatment strategy may be as effective in adults as it is in teens.

“It is important to repeat this study in adults,” he says.

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Read 9340 times Last modified on Thursday, 01 March 2012 12:52

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