Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Feature Medical Research

Dangers of research into chronic fatigue syndrome

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 22 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3780

Rapid Response:

Assumptions, assumptions.

"The campaign has gained new life since the publication in March in
the Lancet of the PACE trial, a comparison of four treatments for CFS that
concluded, to the fury of the campaigners, that cognitive behavioural
therapy and graded exercise therapy can be effective."

Show me one piece of evidence that campaigners are furious because
the PACE trial showed moderate benefit for some participants with GET and
CBT. This assertion is nonsense. The outcome of the PACE Trial is almost
exactly as expected by every well-informed doctor, researcher and patient
who is familiar with similar previous research. If anything, the results
support those who are fed-up with repetitive psychological /
rehabilitative research into CFS.

If Nigel Hawkes read the Lancet publication of the PACE Trial results
he will be aware that GET and CBT achieved 'improvement' or 'recovery' for
only 15% more participants than in the Control Group; and that is using
benchmarks for 'improvement' and 'recovery' that are very low. So low, in
fact, that it has been claimed that some meeting the criteria used for
'recovered' would actually still be sufficiently impaired to be accepted
as a participant in the PACE Trial.

The legitimate anger of campaigners is about the highly dubious
design and execution of the PACE Trial
(See: and the morally questionable
manipulation of the media which then trumpeted the results as though a
cure had been found.

The BMJ article appears to be another example of such manipulation.

Competing interests: Disabled by Myalgic Ecephalomyelitis

27 June 2011
Peter Kemp