IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A lady talking to a patient with a circular image of Dr Charles Shepherd, Honorary Medical Adviser to the ME Association. The title reads: ME Association raises concerns about new research promoting CBT as a treatment for ME/CFS. The ME Association Logo (bottom right).

The ME Association raises concerns about new research promoting CBT as a treatment for ME/CFS

Medical Xpress has reported on the following published research ‘Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) found to be beneficial for patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)'.


Researchers from Amsterdam UMC and King's College London have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is beneficial for those with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). They analyzed data from trials involving almost 1,300 patients and found that CBT led to a reduction in fatigue and physical limitations. These results are published today in Psychological Medicine.

We found CBT led to a clinically relevant reduction in fatigue and functional impairment as well as an increase in physical functioning. These results give a clear picture that CBT can be beneficial for a substantial number of patients. About half were no longer severely fatigued after treatment,” says Professor Hans Knoop, Clinical Psychologist at Amsterdam UMC and leader of the research group.

More information:

Kings College London: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy beneficial for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome

MEA Comment

This is another desperate attempt to persuade patients and their doctors that ME/CFS can be successfully treated using CBT.

The post NICE guideline promotion of CBT comes from a small group of researchers, some of whom have spent a significant part of their professional lives carrying out psychosocial research which, in their opinion, demonstrates that CBT is an effective form of treatment for ME/CFS.

The new NICE guideline makes it very clear that there is no sound evidence from clinical trials to show that CBT can be used to treat the underlying disease process in ME/CFS and this paper isn't going to change any minds at NICE.

CBT can, however, sometimes be of some help to some people with ME/CFS who are having difficulty in coping with and coming to terms with an illness that has such a devasting effect on almost all aspects of normal daily life – as it can with many other long term conditions.

Unfortunately, for people with ME/CFS outside the UK, this paper will probably be used by health service providers to recommend CBT as the main form of treatment for CBT and offer little or nothing in addition.

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.
Member of the 2018-2021 NICE Guideline Committee.
Member of the 2002 Independent Working Group on ME/CFS.

Dr Charles Shepherd
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