By David Tuller, DrPH.
At noon last Friday, at the University of Exeter’s Mood Disorders Centre, Professor Esther Crawley gave a talk called “What is new in paediatric CFS/ME research.” When I saw a notice about the event the day before, I felt it might be my one chance to ask her directly about her concerns regarding my work and her accusation that I was writing “libellous blogs.” (If she were American, she would presumably have accused me of writing “libellous–one L–blogs”).
I also hoped to gain insight into some other issues that have troubled me: why she still believes PACE was a “great, great” trial, why her prevalence studies use “chronic fatigue” as a proxy for “chronic fatigue syndrome,” why she is not concerned about bias given that she conducts non-blinded studies relying on subjective rather than objective primary outcomes, etc.
So many questions!
I’d heard that Professor Crawley is a compelling presenter with a strong dose of what many characterize as charm. This, I found out, is true. Unfortunately, she compellingly and charmingly presented a series of misleading arguments. The talk did not include any discussion of the obvious: that the biopsychosocial approach she has championed is losing ground rapidly, both internationally and in the U.K. Instead, she claimed that 22 percent of adults “recover” with treatment–without citing the reanalysis of the PACE trial data that demolished that claim.
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