People who've told their doctor that they have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have often been met with chronic scornful scepticism (CSS). Lead-swingers, we think the expression goes.
Sadly, a new study seems to vindicate the doctor's view. After studying the cases of 178 people in the UK who reported having CFS, researchers have concluded that only a third of them actually had the condition or, more precisely, met the criteria for the condition as set by the Centers for Disease Control.
Most patients were unemployed and depressed, the researchers said, and their CFS was purely psychological, a view that many doctors still hold.
All of this seems to miss the essential point that CFS is, by definition, a cluster of symptoms. The fact that they fail to meet a manufacturd criteria does not alter the fact that many of these people are suffering physical, and not psychological, ailments. This new study does nothing to remove the prejudice against a serious condition that deserves more research.
(Source: British Journal of General Practitioners, 2003; 53: 441-5).