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
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