Trial By Error: FITNET-NHS Recruitment Ad Promotes “Recovery”

David Tuller


By David Tuller, DrPH.


A British medical education company has recently disseminated a recruitment ad for a high-profile pediatric study of treatment for what it calls CFS/ME. The recruitment ad’s headline describes the intervention being investigated as “effective,” without caveat or reservation. (Full headline: “Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME): effective home treatment for teenagers”)

To back up this assertion, the recruitment ad claims that a previous Dutch study of the intervention reported “impressive” results, with 65 % in that arm achieving “recovery,” compared to only 8 % among other participants. The ad declares that these results were maintained for years. [In fact, the Dutch study reported this “recovery” rate as 66 %.]

This e-mailed recruitment ad is for FITNET-NHS, a trial of online CBT for kids. The UK’s National Institute for Health Research, an arm of the National Health Service, funded this major study, which is seeking to enrol more than 700 children. The recruitment ad was apparently sent to GPs—at least, it was received by one, who passed it along. The company that sent it out, Red Whale, or perhaps Red Whale/GP Update, states that 15,000 primary care practitioners take its courses annually. So perhaps the ad was widely distributed, perhaps not.


To read the rest of this story, click on the link below:



Link to CBT Trial story

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