Trial By Error: Some Thoughts On MUS And Bermingham; My Letter To Professor Payne

David Tuller



By David Tuller, DrPH

In February, I wrote a post tracking how a core finding from Bermingham et al, a 2010 study, has been misrepresented repeatedly in claims about the costs to the National Health Service of so-called “medically unexplained symptoms.” The misrepresented finding has been cited by proponents of an NHS effort to divert people labeled as having MUS away from specialist medical care and toward psychological interventions. This approach to MUS is part of the expansion of an NHS program called Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

Putting aside for a moment legitimate concerns about MUS as a clinical construct, it is troubling that untrue information about NHS costs has been widely disseminated and cited in the context of public health policy debates and decision-making on the issue. That’s why I have started pressing some of those involved to correct these mis-citations of Bermingham et al. This task is more challenging than it should be–even when the mistake is indisputable, as it is in these instances.


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