Managing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in U.K. primary care: Challenges and opportunities

Journal: Chronic Illness. 2006 Jun;2(2):143-53.

Authors and affiliation: Wearden AJ, Chew-Graham C. University of Manchester, School of Psychological Sciences, Manchester, UK. [E-mail: ]

PMID: 17175657

Calls for the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in primary care have been based largely on considerations of the availability and accessibility of resources rather than with reference to a firm evidence base.

Treatments such as cognitive-behavioural therapy and graded exercise therapy, which have proven effective for CFS in secondary and specialist care settings, have not been adequately tested in primary care.

There are several factors that may affect the generalizability of such treatments. Patients seen in primary care may differ from those seen in secondary care, in terms of both illness beliefs and social characteristics, and these factors need to be taken into account when developing and adapting treatments for primary care.

While some primary care physicians experience difficulties in the diagnosis of CFS, we argue that early and authoritative diagnosis and the provision of a tangible explanation for patients' symptoms are likely to be beneficial. Because of the scarcity of qualified specialist therapists, we need to train primary care practitioners to deliver treatments, and we need more research into the feasibility and effectiveness of doing this.

Finally, the primary care setting offers opportunities for the guided development of patient self-help approaches.

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