By Brian Hughes in The Science Bit.
1. What’s going on?
This week, in the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is publishing a new guideline for the diagnosis and management of a set of conditions referred to as “myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy)” or “chronic fatigue syndrome” (ME/CFS). “ME/CFS” is a broad acronym that is often used to refer to many conditions. It has been estimated that between 0.5% and 1% of the population may be diagnosable with ME/CFS, equating to more than 300,000 people in the UK. The new guideline is to be published on 18 August.
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2. How is the new guideline different to the old one?
The most significant differences relate to treatment recommendations. The old guideline, published back in 2007, had suggested that ME/CFS could be treated using a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET). Essentially, the old UK guideline approached ME/CFS as if it were a psychological illness. By contrast, the World Health Organization defines ME/CFS as a neurological disease, listing it within the neurological disorders section of ICD-10, its illness classification system.
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