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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Primary healthcare provision and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: a survey of patients' and General Practitioners' beliefs

Marie A Thomas* and Andrew P Smith

Author Affiliations

Centre for Occupational and Health Psychology, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, 63 Park Place, Cardiff, UK

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BMC Family Practice 2005, 6:49  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-6-49

Published: 13 December 2005



The current study was conducted as part of a research project into the evaluation and assessment of healthcare provision and education in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). One aim of the study was the development of informative and educational literature for both General Practitioners (GP) and sufferers. Issues such as diagnosis, management and treatment of the syndrome should be included in information booklets written by healthcare professionals. It was important to begin the process by assessing the level of specialist knowledge that existed in typical GP surgeries. This data would then be compared to data from CFS patients.


197 survey booklets were sent to CFS sufferers from an existing research panel. The patients approached for the purpose of the study had been recruited onto the panel following diagnosis of their illness at a specialised CFS outpatient clinic in South Wales. A further 120 booklets were sent to GP surgeries in the Gwent Health Authority region in Wales.


Results from the study indicate that the level of specialist knowledge of CFS in primary care remains low. Only half the GP respondents believed that the condition actually exists.


Steps are recommended to increase the knowledge base by compiling helpful and informative material for GPs and patient groups.