There is no widely accepted explanation for the disease, which is estimated to affect up to one in 100 of the population, and patients are currently offered a variety of different treatments.
A review of 15 studies, including a total of 1,043 patients, compared CBT with either usual care or other psychological therapies. It found CBT to be more effective in reducing the severity of symptoms than the other therapies or standard care.
However, the reviewers say further research is required to determine whether CBT is more beneficial than other forms of treatment, such as exercise and relaxation therapies.
Lead researcher Jonathan Price, from the University of Oxford, said: ‘CFS is a challenging illness for patients, and there is ongoing controversy about its causes. There remain unanswered questions, but the available evidence is clear – CBT can help many people with CFS.’