Baseline cortisol levels Predict treatment outcomes in chronic fatigue syndrome nonpharmacologic clinical trial

Leonard A. Jason, Susan Torres-Harding, Kevin Maher, Nadia Reynolds, Molly Brown, Matthew Sorenson, Julie Donalek, Karina Corradi, Mary Ann Fletcher, Tony Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: Understanding how nonpharmacologic interventions differentially affect the subgroups of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) might provide insights into the pathophysiology of this illness. In this exploratory study, baseline measures of normal versus abnormal cortisol were compared on a variety of immune markers and other self-report measures. Normal versus abnormal cortisol ratings were used as predictors in a nurse-delivered nonpharmacologic intervention. Methods: Participants diagnosed with CFS were assigned to 6-month nonpharmacologic interventions. Individuals were classified as having abnormal or normal cortisol levels on the basis of scores over the five testing times. Cortisol levels were considered abnormal if they continued to rise, were flat, or were at abnormally low over time. Results: Across interventions, those with abnormal cortisol at the baseline appeared not to improve over time, whereas those with normal baseline cortisol evidenced improvements on a number of immunologic and self-report measures. Conclusion: It appears that, in subgroups of individuals with CFS, baseline cortisol markers are associated with outcome trajectories for nonpharmacologic treatment trials. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-59
Number of pages21
JournalJournal Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 16 2008


  • Chronic
  • Cortisol
  • Fatigue syndrome
  • Immunologic markers
  • Nonpharmacologic treatments
  • Subgroups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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