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More evidence the name ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ still generating physician disrespect

  [ 13 votes ]   [ 1 Comment ] • April 3, 2012

Do you think it's a disease? A survey of medical students
- Source: BMC Medical Education, Apr 3, 2012

By Chrissy Erueti, Paul Glasziou, Chris Del Mar, Mieke L Van Driel

[Note: The medical student survey was conducted at Bond University in Australia, where important ME/CFS research is being done by investigators such as Dr. Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik.]

Background: The management of medical conditions is influenced by whether clinicians regard them as "disease" or "not a disease."

The aim of the survey was to determine:

• How medical students classify a range of conditions they might encounter in their professional lives,

• And whether a different name for a condition would influence their decision in the categorization of the condition as a 'disease' or 'not a disease'.

We surveyed 3 concurrent years of medical students to classify 36 candidate conditions into ‘disease’ and ‘non-disease’.

The conditions were given a 'medical' label and a (lay) label and positioned where possible in alternate columns of the survey.

The response rate was 96% (183 of 190 students attending a lecture):

• 80% of students concurred on 16 conditions as "disease" (e.g., diabetes, tuberculosis), and 4 as "non-disease" (e.g., baldness, menopause, fractured skull and heat stroke).

• The remaining 16 conditions (with 21% to 79% agreement) were more contentious (especially obesity, infertility, hay fever, alcoholism, and restless leg syndrome).

Three pairs of conditions had both a more, and a less, medical label:

• The more medical labels (myalgic encephalomyelitis, hypertension, and erectile dysfunction) were more frequently classified as 'disease' than the less medical (chronic fatigue syndrome, high blood pressure, and impotence), respectively,

• [And] significantly different for the first two pairs [ME vs chronic fatigue syndrome and hypertension vs high blood pressure].

Some conditions excluded from the classification of "disease" were unexpected (e.g., fractured skull and heat stroke).

Students were mostly concordant on what conditions should be classified as ‘disease’.

They were more likely to classify synonyms as 'disease' if the label was medical.

The findings indicate there is still a problem 30 years on in the concept of 'what is a disease'.

Our findings suggest that we should be addressing such concepts to medical students.

[Note: To read the full text pdf of this free access article, click HERE.]

Source: BMC Medical Education, Apr 3, 2012; (12)19. DOI:10.1186/1472-6920-12-19, by Erueti C, Glasziou P, Del Mar C, Van Driel ML. Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Queensland & Discipline of General Practice, School of Medicine, Brisbane, Bond University, Australia; Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. [Email:]

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Article Comments Post a Comment

More than just one syndrome.
Posted by: autumnkay99
Apr 4, 2012
I think that all students and young Drs., should be teaching them about all these set sympthoms, and overlapping conditons many patients have. In some respect I think that alot of these conditons are related to each other, I have Fibromyalgia, I also have unrelenting chronic fatigue, and I believe it's becaue I haven't slept good in 30 years. I worked night shift all my life, and I think that it breaks down your biological clock, etc., when you dont go into deep sleep stage, you are not repairing nothing in your body. I have talked to many patients like myself, that have so many overlapping conditions, which are chronic, and debilating, such as chronic nausea, dizziness, Cognitive Dysfunctions, All over body pain, neuropathy@nerve pain, and I could go on all night. It would be very challenging to get some research into these healh problems. Many of us are so tired of being sick, we have suffered many years, some as much as 25 yrs. We have tried everything Docs, counselors, Physical Thearpy, all the medications on the market, and none of the Medications, I have tried helped, in fact many have terrible side effects. THere's something going on out there, and I would love to see someone find out the link. I have heard Killer cells, and different type of genetic problems, someone, somewhere please help us, we are suffering. Thank you.
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