Defining and measuring recovery from myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome: the physician perspective

By Andrew R. Devendorf et al.

Abstract
 

Purpose: To inform an operationalised definition of recovery from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) for research and practice. Without a consensus on defining and measuring recovery, there will continue to be controversy amongst researchers, clinicians, and patients when interpreting treatment outcomes.

Method: This study explores physicians’ views on recovery from ME and CFS. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 10 physician participants who are experts in the ME and CFS field. Our deductive thematic analysis, using a realist perspective, provided a framework for differentiating recovery and significant improvement.

Results: Physicians conceptualised recovery as complete symptom remission and a return to premorbid functioning (adjusted for with age), whereas they viewed significant improvement as a substantial reduction in symptoms with considerable functional gains, where patients may operate in daily life but still must cope or be treated.

Conclusions: Our findings provide recommendations and approaches for measuring: daily functioning, symptomatology, quality of life, and physical functioning.

  • Implications for rehabilitation
  • Physicians viewed recovery as complete symptom remission and a return to premorbid functioning (adjusted for with age).
  • Recovery from myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome should be viewed as multidimensional, considering patients’ daily life, psychosocial functioning, and overall physical functioning.
  • These findings can improve practitioner-client interactions, as they provide recommendations for measuring recovery in research and practice.

Source: Andrew R. Devendorf, Carly T. Jackson, Madison Sunnquist & Leonard A. Jason. Defining and measuring recovery from myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome: the physician perspective. Disability and Rehabilitation. Published online: 05 Oct 2017

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