Intended for healthcare professionals


Chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 30 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:411
  1. Peter White, professor of psychological medicine1,
  2. Maurice Murphy, consultant physician1,
  3. Jill Moss, founding chair2,
  4. George Armstrong, co-chair3,
  5. Sir Peter Spencer, chief executive officer3
  1. 1Barts and the London NHS Trust and Queen Mary School of Medicine and Dentistry, St Bartholomew's Hospital, London EC1A 7BE
  2. 2Association of Young People with ME, PO Box 5766, Milton Keynes, MK10 1AQ
  3. 3Action for ME, Bristol BS1 6BY
  1. p.d.white{at}

    NICE guidelines pave the way forward for patients and doctors

    The uncertainty inherent in making a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is reflected by the variety of names (such as myalgic encephalomyelitis; ME) it has been given. The names reflect the hope that such labels can impose some certainty where little exists. Many doctors are reluctant to make a diagnosis of CFS, with half not even believing it exists.1 The consequences of this uncertainty and reluctance have been that patients hear mixed messages and often receive poor, if any, care.2 It is therefore a welcome relief that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has just published clinical guidelines on the diagnosis and management of this disease.3 In this week's BMJ, Baker and Shaw summarise the guidelines.4

    How has the development of these guidelines come about? Eleven years ago, three UK royal colleges agreed that CFS/ME existed as an independent diagnosis and that treatments were possible.5 Unfortunately, this had little effect on the provision of services. …

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