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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

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

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Some key issues neglected in this paper

Angela Kennedy   (2006-08-22 11:18)  Social Sciences lecturer and researcher email

This paper neglects to discuss some major problems regarding the issue of ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’ and the various interventions claiming efficacy: the fact that such claims to efficacy as well as the nature of ‘CFS’ itself , are contested heavily, especially among those academics and practitioners involved in research and clinical practice, and that there is increasing evidence that baldly contradicts many of the claims present in this paper. Consideration of these should have been included in the literature review and references list at the very least, especially given the topic of the paper.

As these important issues were neglected, the paper unfortunately reads as little more than a propaganda piece for two interventions (’CBT’ and ’GET’) for which the evidence base for claims to efficacy as treatment in ’CFS’ is inadequate (as even acknowledged by some authors involved in promoting these treatments), and which may actually physically harm at least some of the patients unfortunate enough to fall into the category of ‘CFS’ patient. The (theoretical) rationale behind such treatments is also problematic, in that it has arguably contributed fundamentally to those very same problems of scepticism, dismissive attitudes and inadequate and conflicting advice by doctors mentioned in this paper.

There is a large, international body of evidence demonstrating ‘CFS’ patients to actually have serious organic disease and physiological dysfunction. Refusal to acknowledge this has led to widespread, profound and unnecessary patient suffering. It remains uncanny that this error continues.

Competing interests

Mother of severely disabled young adult diagnosed with ME/CFS, who was subsequently found to have been infected with borrelia spirochaetes. My academic research interests are in discursive constructions of health states as deviance and resulting social inequalities, social science research methodology, and claims to 'scientific' validity.

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