Background: Due to its unknown etiology, the objective diagnosis and therapeutics of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) are still challenging. Generally, the patient-reported outcome (PRO) is the major strategy driving treatment response because the patient is the most important judge of whether changes are meaningful. Methods: In order to determine the overall characteristics of the main outcome measurement applied in clinical trials for CFS/ME, we systematically surveyed the literature using two electronic databases, PubMed and the Cochrane Library, throughout June 2020. We analyzed randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for CFS/ME focusing especially on main measurements. Results: Fifty-two RCTs out of a total 540 searched were selected according to eligibility criteria. Thirty-one RCTs (59.6%) used single primary outcome and others adapted ≥2 kinds of measurements. In total, 15 PRO-derived tools were adapted (50 RCTs; 96.2%) along with two behavioral measurements for adolescents (4 RCTs; 7.7%). The 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36; 16 RCTs), Checklist Individual Strength (CIS; 14 RCTs), and Chalder Fatigue Questionnaire (CFQ; 11 RCTs) were most frequently used as the main outcomes. Since the first RCT in 1996, Clinical Global Impression (CGI) and SF-36 have been dominantly used each in the first and following decade (26.1% and 28.6%, respectively), while both CIS and Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI) have been the preferred instruments (21.4% each) in recent years (2016 to 2020). Conclusions: This review comprehensively provides the choice pattern of the assessment tools for interventions in RCTs for CFS/ME. Our data would be helpful practically in the design of clinical studies for CFS/ME-related therapeutic development.
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