EFFECTIVE TREATMENTS AVAILABLE FOR CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME/ME
Embargoed until Thursday 23 May 2002
Researchers from the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) at the University of York have concluded that both Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) can be effective treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)/ME.
Their findings will be detailed in the latest Effective Health Care bulletin to be published on 23 May 2002 and disseminated throughout the NHS.The main results from this comprehensive review of the research evidence on the treatment of this controversial condition are:
- There is evidence for the effectiveness of CBT and GET
- Many other types of intervention have been tested, including various drugs and supplements. However, the evidence for these is inconclusive.
- Bed or wheelchair restricted patients are not included in some studies, which may limit the applicability of the findings to all people with CFS/ME.
Dr Anne-Marie Bagnall, one of the authors of the research, commented, “We are pleased to be able to make the results of our research available to the NHS, and hope that they will be of use in helping health professionals make decisions about the treatment of patients with this condition. However, there is a large amount of work still to be done in evaluating the interventions that are currently available.”For more information, please contact Rachel Richardson on 01904 433634.
Notes for Editors
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/MEChronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) consists of a range of symptoms including fatigue, headaches, sleep disturbances, difficulties with concentration and muscle pain. The defining characteristic has been reported to be debilitating fatigue. Children and adults present with similar symptoms. Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is sometimes reported to be a separate syndrome from CFS, characterised by muscle weakness, pain and neurological disturbance.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a collaborative approach which aims to reduce levels of disability and symptoms associated with CFS/ME.Treatment components which should be tailored may include:
- Record keeping in order to monitor the condition and understand it better
- Gradually resuming activities which were previously too difficult
- Establishing a sleep routine
- Treating any associated anxiety or depression
- Making lifestyle changes which may have contributed to the development of the condition
- Monitoring thoughts and changing any unhelpful ideas which may be hampering progress with treatment
Graded Exercise Therapy (GET)
GET is a form of structured and supervised activity management that aims for gradual but progressive increases in aerobic activities such as walking or swimming. The initial programme is designed in collaboration with the patient, based on current capability. The duration/intensity of exercise is gradually increased under the supervision of a trained professional. Small, usually weekly, incremental increases are jointly agreed depending on progress. The aim of GET is to increase fitness, strength, stamina and the gradual uptake of previously avoided activities.