Caring for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7330.124 (Published 19 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:124

Conclusions in CMO's report are shaped by anecdote not evidence

  1. Stephen E Straus, chief, Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease
  1. National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20854, USA

    In 1998, the chief medical officer of England and Wales commissioned a working group to advise on best practice guidelines to improve the quality of care and treatment for people with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis. Now issued, the group's report reflects the good efforts of the scholars, practitioners, patients, and advocates who joined to address this complex matter.1

    Given the controversies surrounding chronic fatigue syndrome, it is not surprising that the report admits to broad domains of disagreement among its members. If anything, it is remarkable that most of the original group weathered the undertaking, as there were resignations both among patients who deemed the evolving product insufficiently sympathetic and among academic practitioners who chafed at recommendations untempered by data.

    The report identifies the sentinel issues that concern patients and practitioners alike: how one makes the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome; the treatments to consider; and research that remains to be done. Unfortunately, despite more than 2000 relevant papers indexed on PubMed since chronic fatigue syndrome …

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