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ME could be treated with behavioural therapy

18th February 2011

British scientists have suggested that chronic fatigue syndrome should be treated with a form of behavioural therapy or exercise.

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Writing in The Lancet, the team from the University of Edinburgh say the approach preferred by some charities of managing energy levels is less successful.

The study looked at which treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome – or ME as it is also known – were most successful.

It compared cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), graded exercise therapy and adaptive pacing therapy (planning activity to avoid fatigue).

In the study of 641 people with the condition, CBT and graded exercise therapies were the most successful.

With CBT, 30% of patients returned to normal levels of fatigue and physical function, while the authors claimed adaptive pacing therapy was little better than basic medical advice.

Co-author Professor Michael Sharpe said: “One of the difficulties in the field is ambiguity, what is the cause and most importantly, what is the treatment?

“The evidence up to now has remained controversial. The helpful thing about this trial is that it actually gives pretty clear cut evidence about effectiveness and safety.”

However, the charity Action for ME said the conclusions were exaggerated and contradicted evidence from its own surveys.

CEO Sir Peter Spencer said: “Of the 2,763 people with ME who took part in our 2008 survey, 82% found pacing helpful, compared with 50% for cognitive behavioural therapy and 45% for graded exercise therapy.”

However, the Association of Young People with ME welcomed the findings and said it hoped that fears about graded exercise and CBT were laid to rest.

 

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