ITV show gets it wrong on life prospects for M.E. sufferers | 17 April 2015


The ME Association has received a number of complaints today about an item on ‘This Morning’ in which one of your contributors – Denise Robertson – made some comments relating to ME/myalgic encephalomyelitis.

I understand that a caller to the programme was informed by Denise that: “You must remember that ME doesn’t last forever”

Whilst I can understand that this was probably meant to be reassuring and well meaning, the information is not factually correct.

Sadly, the prognosis for many adults with ME/CFS, especially when they have been ill for several years and not made any significant progress even with good management is poor and, as the Chief Medical Officer’s Report on ME/CFS noted in the section on Prognosis: ‘Full recovery after symptoms persist for more than five years is rare’

While some some people with ME do improve over the course of time, it is only a small minority that return to full normal health.

In addition, it should be noted that around 25% of people with ME/CFS are severely affected at some point in their illness – meaning they are wheelchair-bound, housebound or bed-bound, and may even have to be tube fed.

Not surprisingly, this illness also has a devastating effect on quality of life and research studies have repeatedly found that this can be even worse than for people suffering from many other chronic diseases, including cancer (reference: Nacul L et l, BMC Medicine, 2011, 9, 91).

I would be grateful if you could pass this information to Denise and you clearly need to correct this misinformation on the programme on Monday.

Dr Charles Shepherd
Hon Medical Adviser, ME Association


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