Professional & popular views of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

OBJECTIVE–To study the coverage of the chronic fatigue

syndrome in the popular and professional press.


of all original research papers on the chronic fatigue

syndrome published in British journals from 1980 onwards and

of professional trade papers, national newspapers, and women’s

magazines. Interviews with six medical journalists.

SETTING–British scientific, medical, and popular press.

RESULTS–37 (49%) articles in research journals did not favour

organic causes and 23 (31%) favoured organic causes. By

contrast 31 (55%) articles in the medical trade press and 118

(69%) in national newspapers and women’s magazines favoured

organic causes.

CONCLUSIONS–Press coverage of chronic fatigue

syndrome has amplified and distorted divisions in the research

community concerning the chronic fatigue syndrome. Articles in

the press concentrate on a simple medical model of illness

reinforcing the stigma of psychological illness and

dissatisfaction with traditional medical authority.

MacLean G, Wessely S

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