Clinical Rheumatology

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 921–929 | Cite as

Role of psychological aspects in both chronic pain and in daily functioning in chronic fatigue syndrome: a prospective longitudinal study

  • Mira Meeus
  • Jo NijsEmail author
  • Evelyne Van Mol
  • Steven Truijen
  • Kenny De Meirleir
Original Article


In addition to fatigue, many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) experience chronic musculoskeletal pain. We aimed at examining the role of catastrophizing, coping, kinesiophobia, and depression in the chronic pain complaints and in the daily functioning of CFS patients. A consecutive sample of 103 CFS patients experiencing chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain completed a battery of questionnaires evaluating pain, daily functioning, and psychological characteristics (depression, kinesiophobia, pain coping, and catastrophizing). Thirty-nine patients participated in the 6–12-month follow-up, consisting of questionnaires evaluating pain and pressure pain algometry. Correlation and linear regression analyses were performed to identify predictors. The strongest correlations with pain intensity were found for catastrophizing (r = −.462, p < .001) and depression (r = −.439, p < .001). The stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that catastrophizing was both the immediate main predictor for pain (20.2%) and the main predictor on the longer term (20.1%). The degree of depression was responsible for 10% in the observed variance of the VAS pain after 6–12 months. No significant correlation with pain thresholds could be revealed. The strongest correlations with daily functioning at baseline were found for catastrophizing (r = .435, p < .001) and depression (r = .481, p < .001). Depression was the main predictor for restrictions in daily functioning (23.1%) at baseline. Pain catastrophizing and depression were immediate and long-term main predictors for pain in patients with CFS having chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain. They were also correlated to daily functioning, with depression as the main predictor for restrictions in daily functioning at baseline.


Activities of daily living Catastrophizing Chronic pain Coping Depression Kinesiophobia 



Mira Meeus was financially supported by a PhD grant supplied by the Higher Institute of Physiotherapy, Department of Health Sciences, Artesis University College Antwerp, Belgium (G 807) and co-financed by the Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy–Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium (OZR project OZ.R. 1234/MFYS Wer2) and is now supported as post-doctoral research fellow by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).




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Copyright information

© Clinical Rheumatology 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mira Meeus
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jo Nijs
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Evelyne Van Mol
    • 1
  • Steven Truijen
    • 1
  • Kenny De Meirleir
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy, Department of Health SciencesArtesis University College Antwerp (AHA)AntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Human Physiology, Faculty of Physical Education and PhysiotherapyVrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)BrusselsBelgium

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