Clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of the controversial condition known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) were today published in the Medical Journal of Australia, ending some of the uncertainty associated with the illness, according to Dr Rob Loblay, Immunologist at the University of Sydney and Convenor of the CFS Guidelines Working Group.
A multi-disciplinary working group including a consumer representative developed the Guidelines under the auspices of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
“In developing the Guidelines, the Working Group consulted extensively with the medical profession and with patient groups, and many of their suggestions have been incorporated,” said Dr Loblay.
“The Guidelines provide an accurate summation of the best available evidence or, where evidence is lacking, a reliable consensus of professional opinion in this field,” said Dr Loblay.
“There has been a lot of misinformation about the condition which has not been helpful to health professionals caring for people with CFS or to the patients themselves. This document places some of this misinformation in perspective and proposes constructive and positive approaches to the management of the disorder based on the best available evidence,” said Dr Loblay.
“We are aware that there are some practitioners who hold alternative or conflicting views about aetiology and also about the best diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, and that individual experience with the range of therapeutic approaches may differ between some individuals with CFS. The Guidelines acknowledge these differences and make it clear when expert opinion rather than evidence is being used to support a proposal,” said Dr Loblay.
“CFS cannot be classified as a disease because the underlying pathophysiology (or mechanism) that causes the condition is not known nor understood,” according to A/Prof Andrew Lloyd, Infectious Diseases Physician at the University of New South Wales and member of the CFS Guidelines Working Group.
“However we do know that people with CFS are genuinely ill and they can experience significant disabilities related to their condition. Physicians and others need to acknowledge that CFS is real; it causes suffering, impairment and disability,” said A/Prof Lloyd.
“Making a diagnosis of the syndrome can be problematic, but there are diagnostic criteria that can be used as a guide to ensure the disorder is accurately identified,” said A/Prof Lloyd.
Although there is no proven curative treatment for CFS, the guidelines provide doctors with a range of positive suggestions for supportive care and symptom management. Over time, many patients improve and are able to resume a normal work or study routine, and some make a complete recovery.
The guidelines will be distributed to all medical practitioners throughout Australia, and will be available to the public on the MJA website at
The following organisations have given in-principle support for the
Australasian Sleep Association
Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology & Allergy
Australian Association of Neurologists
Australian & New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
Australian Rheumatology Association
Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians comprises a Fellowship of medical specialists who are committed to providing the highest quality of care in internal medicine, paediatrics and their sub-specialties to all people in Australia and New Zealand. The Paediatrics & Child Health Division represents the interests of 1500 Paediatricians in Australia and New Zealand.
Dr Rob Loblay 0417 210085
A/Prof Andrew Lloyd 0413 112701
Source: Royal Australasian College of Physicians
Date: May 6, 2002
(c) 2002 The Royal Australasian College of Physicians