In the Telegraph:-
“The biggest study yet into possible ways to reduce the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – the little-understood condition that affects 250,000 people in Britain – claims… …that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), in which patients discuss their fear and avoidance of physical activity, combined with Graded Exercise Therapy (GET), which helps sufferers gradually increase the amount of activity such as walking they can manage, is more effective and less harmful than previously thought.”
Or, quite possibly, not. And am I alone in feeling that “less harmful” is a long way from being a ringing endorsement?
As I’ve said many time before, a research population of under 1,000 people will yield statistically worthless results. This research used 640 people, and the claims made for it have little more validity than your average TV shampoo advert, which claims 98% customer satisfaction (before revealing, in tiny text at the bottom of the screen, that they ask 12 people – or an equally fatuous number.
In this instance, it would be useful to know how many of the 640 were in the test group, and how many in the control group, because if the 640 is the total number – test plus control groups – the results are even more questionable. And, of course, the Placebo Effect must be taken into account. I doubt it has, though.
I have had ME/CFS since 1985. Sometimes it responds positively to gentle exercise, other times exactly the same exercise will wipe me out with excruciating pain for days afterwards. A person’s experience of ME can fluctuate widely from day to day, even from hour to hour (I can feel well enough to go out, so get ready then, out of the blue, be totally trashed by devastating nausea and exhaustion), and it’s quite possible that some (many?), of the 640, would react differently if retested.
The claims of this research are worthless, as the test population is too small, and GET, as far as I and many other sufferers are concerned, remains dangerous.
CBT is a crock – talking will not cure a physical illness, like ME/CFS, any more than it will cure a broken leg. Coping strategies might help, but they are not a cure.
And isn’t it fortuitous that this research – such as it is – pops up just as Incapacity Benefit claimants, many with ME/CFS are making the transition to ESA?
You have ME? No problem, here’s a course of GET, and some CBT. Now go and sign on for JSA – you’ll be fit for work in no time!