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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 49 (2007) 8, 547 - 554

Review article

Course, consequences and treatment of prolonged fatigue among workers: an overview of findings from the Maastricht Cohort Study

IJ. Kant, N.W.H. Jansen, L.G.P.M. van Amelsvoort, M.J.H. Huibers

Although prolonged fatigue is a common complaint among workers, relatively little is known about its course and consequences.
aim To present an overview of the course, consequences and treatment of prolonged fatigue in the work force.
method We present an overview of the findings from the Maastricht Cohort Study, which was a prospective cohort (n=12.140) that covered a period of 4 years.
results Fatigue runs an unfavourable course. In many workers symptoms of fatigue are present for a long time, and in some workers the symptoms even develop into those of chronic fatigue syndrome. The consequences of prolonged fatigue are also serious and are manifested in various ways: sick leave, work disability, accidents, immunological effects and reduction in work participation. A brief cognitive behaviour therapy administered by general practitioners to employees with prolonged fatigue proved ineffective.
conclusion The severe consequences of prolonged fatigue and the current lack of effective therapies underline the importance of preventing the development of fatigue complaints, for which the Maastricht Cohort Study may provide the basic tools.

keywords epidemiology, fatigue, prognosis, work