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The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association, a 501(c)3 founded in 1985, exists to meet the needs of patients with CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) or FM (Fibromyalgia), their families and loved ones. The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association works to educate health-care providers and the general public regarding these severely-disabling physical illnesses. We also support patients and their families and advocate for more effective treatment and research.

Reporting of Harms Associated with Graded Exercise Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, T. Kindlon, Bull. IACFS/ME: 19 (2), Fall 2011

Note: Click on the title above to link to the full article.

Abstract:
Across different medical fields, authors have placed a greater emphasis on the reporting of efficacy measures  rather than harms in randomised controlled trials (RCTs), particularly of nonpharmacologic interventions.

To rectify this situation, the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) group and other researchers have issued guidance to improve the reporting of harms.

Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) based on increasing activity levels are often recommended for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS).

However, exercise-related physiological abnormalities have been documented in recent studies and high rates of adverse reactions to exercise have been recorded in a number of patient surveys.

Fifty-one percent of survey respondents (range 28-82%, n=4338, 8 surveys) reported that GET worsened their health while 20% of respondents (range 7-38%, n=1808, 5 surveys) reported similar results for CBT.

Using the CONSORT guidelines as a starting point, this paper identifies problems with the reporting of harms in previous RCTs and suggests potential strategies for improvement in the future.

Issues involving the heterogeneity of subjects and interventions, tracking of adverse events, trial participants’ compliance to therapies, and measurement of harms using patient orientedand objective outcome measures are discussed.

The recently published PACE (Pacing, graded activity, and cognitive behaviour therapy: a randomised evaluation) trial which explicitly aimed to assess “safety”, as well as effectiveness, is also analysed in detail.

Healthcare professionals, researchers and patients need high quality data on harms to appropriately assess the risks versus benefits of CBT and GET.

Ed. note: See also the IACFS/ME Statement on the PACE Trial.

Notice about names

The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association would like to clarify the use of the various acronyms for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Chronic Fatigue & Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) and  Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) on this site. When we generate our own articles on the illness, we will refer to it as ME/CFS, the term now generally used in the United States. When we are reporting on someone else’s report, we will use the term they use. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are currently using ME/CFS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are calling the illness CFS.

Until there is consensus on a name for the illness, the Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association name will not change.