Illness experience and occupations of people with chronic fatigue syndrome

Melanie L. Gray, Ellie M. Fossey

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Chronic fatigue syndrome affects people's physical and cognitive capacities for participation in their occupations, but has received limited consideration by occupational therapists. This qualitative study explores the illness experiences and occupations of five people living with chronic fatigue syndrome. Narrative data were collected using the Occupational Performance History Interview-II (OPHI-II). Key aspects of participants' illness experiences, identified through thematic analysis, were: (i) experiencing and understanding chronic fatigue syndrome; (ii) experiencing different types of fatigue; (in) 'an ending and a beginning'; (iv) experiencing doing activities; and (v) doing something towards getting well. These findings reveal participants' life stories, identities, relationships, and occupations had been dramatically altered. Their implication is that people living with this condition face issues, for which occupational therapy can be of assistance. The efficacy of interventions to enable them to adapt their occupations and rebuild their lives merits further research. The potential usefulness of OPHI-II for learning about how clients' occupations are altered by chronic illness in research and practice is illustrated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Illness experience
  • Narrative
  • Occupation
  • Occupational Performance History Interview-II

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