Saturday, October 31, 2015

Puzzling statement from Professor Michael Sharpe on sense about science ...

In this statement on the 28th of October 2015 Lead author of the study, Michael Sharpe, Professor of Psychological Medicine, University of Oxford says:

"The study did not contradict the view that ME/CFS is a chronic illness. These treatments, which we have found previously to be moderately helpful, are not a cure, and they do not benefit everyone. But the good news is, the benefit of these treatments is still apparent two years later, and they do not lead to a relapse of the illness. This new finding should reassure patients who want to try these treatments."

 So he confirms that "These treatments," ie CBT and GET ... "are not a cure" yet in the PACEtrial recovery article they claim that they cure 22% with these treatments. (The percentages (number/total) meeting trial criteria for recovery were 22% (32/143) after CBT, 22% (32/143) after GET, (31 January 2013, Psychological Medicine (2013), 43, 2227–2235) This sounds like a case of serious back peddling ...

 - See more at:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Investigative Reporter Shreds PACE Trial: Calls Mount for Retraction

Investigative Journalist and public health expert David Tuller, academic coordinator of the concurrent masters degree program in public health and journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, published his investigation into the UK’s £5 million PACE trial, on the well known Virology Blog (see Parts 1 and 2, Part 3 and Part 4).

TRIAL BY ERROR: The Troubling Case of the PACE Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Study

This examination of the PACE trial of chronic fatigue syndrome identified several major flaws:
*The study included a bizarre paradox: participants’ baseline scores for the two primary outcomes of physical function and fatigue could qualify them simultaneously as disabled enough to get into the trial but already “recovered” on those indicators–even before any treatment. In fact, 13 percent of the study sample was already “recovered” on one of these two measures at the start of the study.
*In the middle of the study, the PACE team published a newsletter for participants that included glowing testimonials from earlier trial subjects about how much the “therapy” and “treatment” helped them. The newsletter also included an article informing participants that the two interventions pioneered by the investigators and being tested for efficacy in the trial, graded exercise therapy and cognitive behavior therapy, had been recommended as treatments by a U.K. government committee “based on the best available evidence.” The newsletter article did not mention that a key PACE investigator was also serving on the U.K. government committee that endorsed the PACE therapies.
*The PACE team changed all the methods outlined in its protocol for assessing the primary outcomes of physical function and fatigue, but did not take necessary steps to demonstrate that the revised methods and findings were robust, such as including sensitivity analyses. The researchers also relaxed all four of the criteria outlined in the protocol for defining “recovery.” They have rejected requests from patients for the findings as originally promised in the protocol as “vexatious.”
*The PACE claims of successful treatment and “recovery” were based solely on subjective outcomes. All the objective measures from the trial—a walking test, a step test, and data on employment and the receipt of financial information—failed to provide any evidence to support such claims. Afterwards, the PACE authors dismissed their own main objective measures as non-objective, irrelevant, or unreliable.
*In seeking informed consent, the PACE authors violated their own protocol, which included an explicit commitment to tell prospective participants about any possible conflicts of interest. The main investigators have had longstanding financial and consulting ties with disability insurance companies, having advised them for years that cognitive behavior therapy and graded exercise therapy could get claimants off benefits and back to work. Yet prospective participants were not told about any insurance industry links and the information was not included on consent forms. The authors did include the information in the “conflicts of interest” sections of the published papers.
Top researchers who have reviewed the study say it is fraught with indefensible methodological problems. Here is a sampling of their comments:
Dr. Bruce Levin, Columbia University: “To let participants know that interventions have been selected by a government committee ‘based on the best available evidence’ strikes me as the height of clinical trial amateurism.”
Dr. Ronald Davis, Stanford University: “I’m shocked that the Lancet published it…The PACE study has so many flaws and there are so many questions you’d want to ask about it that I don’t understand how it got through any kind of peer review.”
Dr. Arthur Reingold, University of California, Berkeley: “Under the circumstances, an independent review of the trial conducted by experts not involved in the design or conduct of the study would seem to be very much in order.”
Dr. Jonathan Edwards, University College London: “It’s a mass of un-interpretability to me…All the issues with the trial are extremely worrying, making interpretation of the clinical significance of the findings more or less impossible.”
Dr. Leonard Jason, DePaul University: “The PACE authors should have reduced the kind of blatant methodological lapses that can impugn the credibility of the research, such as having overlapping recovery and entry/disability criteria.”

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Study finds Cognitive Behavioral Treatment exacerbates CFS/ME symptoms

@ pubmed

 2015 Oct 16. doi: 10.1111/jcap.12125. [Epub ahead of print]

The Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Depression and Low Self-Esteem in the Context of Pediatric Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME): A Case Study.



Up to one in three young people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) also has depressive symptoms. It is not known how best to treat young people with this comorbidity.


This case report seeks to describe and discuss the use of a cognitive behavioral approach for depression and low self-esteem in a 16-year-old girl with CFS/ME.


Therapy was effective in remediating the young person's mood difficulties, but appeared to exacerbate their CFS/ME symptoms. Therefore, it is crucial that CFS/ME and mood treatments are designed and trialed to ensure a complementary approach. Good communication and joint working between involved professionals is also important, and ideally, treatments for mood and for CFS/ME would be provided by the same team to facilitate this.


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