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The possibility that children with the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and their parents tend to display idiosyncratic cognitive processing concerning levels of activity was examined by means of subjective and objective measures of current activity, together with subjective and objective measures of desired and expected future activity. The degree to which subjective reports of current activity level reflect objectively measured activity level was examined in a group of children with CFS and a healthy control group. All subjects were assessed over a 3-day period by means of ambulatory activity monitoring, and self-reports and parent-reports of current activity level were collected by means of visual analog scales. Analysis of variance revealed a significant interaction between the method of measurement (objective versus subjective) and the participant group (CFS versus Healthy) with the CFS children and their parents underestimating actual level of activity relative to the healthy group. Desired and expected levels of future activity were also assessed by means of subjective report. Child and parent expected levels of future activity were compared with their desired levels. Although expected levels of future activity were similar in the two groups, the divergence between expected levels and corresponding desired levels was significantly greater in the CFS group. These results are discussed in terms of idiosyncratic cognitive processes, which are hypothesized to be associated with CFS and which may play a role in the maintenance of the disorder.


Journal article


J Psychosom Res

Publication Date





213 - 223


Adolescent, Child, Cognition Disorders, Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic, Female, Humans, Male, Motor Activity, Severity of Illness Index