Background: Repeated maximal exercise separated by 24 hours may be useful in identifying possible objective markers in people with ME/CFS that are not present in healthy controls. Aim: We aimed to synthesise studies in which the test-to-retest (24 hours) changes in VO 2 and work rate have been compared between people with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and controls. Methods: Seven databases (CINAHL, PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Knowledge, Embase, Scopus and MEDLINE) were searched. Included studies were observational studies that assessed adults over the age of 18 years with a clinical diagnosis of ME/CFS compared to healthy controls. The methodological quality of included studies was assessed using the Systematic Appraisal of Quality for Observational Research critical appraisal framework. Data from included studies were synthesised using a random effects meta-analysis. Results: The pooled mean decrease in peak work rate (five studies), measured at retest, was greater in ME/CFS by −8.55 (95% CI −15.38 to –1.72) W. The pooled mean decrease in work rate at anaerobic threshold (four studies) measured at retest was greater in ME/CFS by −21 (95%CI −38 to −4, tau = 9.8) W. The likelihood that a future study in a similar setting would report a difference in work rate at anaerobic threshold which would exceed a minimal clinically important difference (10 W) is 78% (95% CI 40%–91%). Conclusion: Synthesised data indicate that people with ME/CFS demonstrate a clinically significant test–retest reduction in work rate at the anaerobic threshold when compared to apparently healthy controls.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was a component of John Franklin’s PhD which was part funded by Teesside University. We would like to thank Professor Greg Atkinson and Professor Alan Batterham for their guidance and support throughout the development and completion of this review.
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.