Short news report at http://tinyurl.com/62xuedn
Annette Barclay departs from the PACE script.
The chronic fatigue syndrome ME could be reversed with counselling and exercise, according to new research.
A landmark study has found that 60% of sufferers significantly improved if they were put on a tailored exercise programme or given talking therapy.
Half of these patients reported a return to normal energy levels.
Co-author of the PACE study (Pacing, Activity,Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Evaluation), Professor Michael Sharpe, said the results should end the controversy over the treatments – some patient groups insist that exercise does more harm than good.
The evidence is just not there and patients could be harmed by this. When drugs are manufactured they have got to be shown to be safe.
Annette Barclay, ME sufferer
He told Sky News: “Our hope is the evidence from this trial – which is the largest trial done in this condition – gives some solid evidence about what treatments help and importantly, that those treatments are safe.
“People have quite rightly been unclear what treatments help and have been worried whether they are safe.
“This trial should actually answer those concerns.”
The 640 patients in the study all received hospital care. Some were also given graded exercise therapy, with a physiotherapist gradually increasing activity levels.
Others had cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Our hope is the evidence from this trial gives some solid evidence about what treatments help and importantly, that those treatments are safe.
Professor Michael Sharpe, study co-author
But those given another widely used treatment – adaptive pacing therapy – failed to show significant improvement. The treatment teaches sufferers to match their activity to their energy levels, and is advocated by some patient groups.
The charity Association of Young People with ME has welcomed the findings.
But the organisation Action for ME said it was “surprised and disappointed” by the research and that the benefits of graded exercise and CBT had been exaggerated.
Annette Barclay has had ME since 1985. She tried an exercise programme – and it made her worse.
She fears other patients could now be damaged.
“The evidence is just not there and patients could be harmed by this. When drugs are manufactured they have got to be shown to be safe,” she said.
“But there is nothing here that shows that CBT and graded exercise is safe for patients.”
The study was funded by The Medical Research Council and is published in The Lancet medical journal.