By Laura Beere in Emerge Australia.
Apologies for all the acronyms and brackets in the post below. We’ve tried to make this as clear as possible so that we can keep you informed about a (sadly this time – negative) development that could impact on the treatment and welfare of people with ME/CFS.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED?
The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) Handbook of Non-Drug Interventions (HANDI) Working Group have published guidelines on Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) in an international journal (the official journal of the UK’s Royal College of General Practitioners) recommending GET as an effective treatment for ME/CFS.
WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM?
The problem is that the recommendations draw heavily on the discredited / controversial PACE trial. While we acknowledge that some patients have responded positively to Graded Exercise Therapy, in a number of patient surveys the vast majority of respondents report that they have been harmed by taking part in exercise programmes. In addition to this exercise as an answer to ME/CFS is rooted in the outdated idea that patients are somehow ‘deconditioned’ (i.e. have lost muscle tone) through an erroneous or psychiatric belief that they are unwell and that patients can be restored to pre-illness condition simply through exercising.
This goes completely against all of the huge progress that has recently been made – including in Australia – identifying biological differences between patients with the condition and healthy controls. Perpetuating the idea that patients have ‘false illness beliefs’ or that ‘the answer is exercise’ increases the stigma surrounding the condition, leads to patients being dismissed by doctors and continues the likelihood that more patients might be harmed by exercise programmes. It also has a direct negative impact on funding decisions that seek to investigate the biomedical basis of ME/CFS.
To read the rest of this story, click on the link below: