Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalopathy (CFS/ME) is a chronic illness which can cause significant fatigue, pain and disability. Activity pacing is frequently advocated as a beneficial coping strategy, however, it is unclear whether pacing is significantly associated with symptoms in people with CFS/ME. The first aim of this study was therefore to explore the cross-sectional associations between pacing and levels of pain, disability and fatigue. The second aim was to explore whether changes in activity pacing following participation in a symptom management programme were related to changes in clinical outcomes.
Cross-sectional study exploring the relationships between pacing, pain, disability and fatigue (n = 114) and pre–post treatment longitudinal study of a cohort of patients participating in a symptom management programme (n = 35).
Out-patient physiotherapy CFS/ME service.
One-hundred and fourteen adult patients with CFS/ME.
Main outcome measures
Pacing was assessed using the chronic pain coping inventory. Pain was measured using a Numeric Pain Rating Scale, fatigue with the Chalder Fatigue Scale and disability with the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire.
No significant associations were observed between activity pacing and levels of pain, disability or fatigue. Likewise, changes in pacing were not significantly associated with changes in pain, disability or fatigue following treatment.
Activity pacing does not appear to be a significant determinant of pain, fatigue or disability in people with CFS/ME when measured with the chronic pain coping index. Consequently, the utility and measurement of pacing require further investigation.
Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalopathy are not determined by activity pacing when measured by the chronic pain coping inventory.