Guided graded exercise self-help for chronic fatigue syndrome: Long term follow up and cost-effectiveness following the GETSET trial

Lucy Clark, Paul McCrone, Francesca Pesola, Mario Vergara-Williamson, Peter D. White

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Objective: The GETSET trial found that guided graded exercise self-help (GES) improved fatigue and physical functioning more than specialist medical care (SMC) alone in adults with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) 12-weeks after randomisation. In this paper, we assess the longer-term clinical and health economic outcomes.
Methods: GETSET was a randomised controlled trial of 211 UK secondary care patients with CFS. Primary outcomes were the Chalder fatigue questionnaire and the physical functioning subscale of the short-form- 36 survey. Postal questionnaires assessed the primary outcomes and cost-effectiveness of the intervention 12-months after randomisation. Service costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were combined in a cost-effectiveness analysis.
Results: Between January 2014 and March 2016, 164 (78%) participants returned questionnaires 15- months after randomisation. Results showed no main effect of intervention arm on fatigue (chi2(1) = 4.8, p = 0.03) or physical functioning (chi2(1) = 1.3, p = 0.25), adjusting for multiplicity. No other intervention arm or time*arm effect was significant. The short-term fatigue reduction was maintained at long-term follow-up for participants assigned to GES, with improved fatigue from short- to long-term follow up after SMC, such that the groups no longer differed. Healthcare costs were £85 higher for GES and produced more QALYs. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was £4802 per QALY.
Conclusions: The short-term improvements after GES were maintained at long-term follow-up, with further improvement in the SMC group such that the groups no longer differed at long-term follow-up. The cost per QALY for GES compared to SMC alone was below the usual threshold indicating cost-effectiveness, but with uncertainty around the result.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110484
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Early online date2 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Graded exercise therapy

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