Chronic fatigue syndrome clinical practice guidelines
Richard G Larkins and Simon R Molesworth
To the Editor: The ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Association of Australia Limited. has expressed its concern over the content of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians' clinical practice guidelines on chronic fatigue syndrome, published as a recent supplement to the Journal.1 Recognising a shared objective to overcome the challenges of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), neither the Association nor the College believes that conflict will provide a useful path to future answers. Accordingly, as the Chairman of the ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Association of Australia and the President (at the time the guidelines were published) of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, we would like to document the common ground we have identified.
- We acknowledge, as do the guidelines, that CFS is a serious, disabling illness.
- There is no evidence that the illness is primarily psychological in origin.
- There is significant evidence of a range of biological abnormalities occurring in people with CFS. It remains unclear whether these are primary or secondary.
- Treatment should be personalised according to the symptoms and circumstances of the individual patient. Treatment plans should be worked out by the patient together with a healthcare professional and designed to be within the capabilities of the patient.
- Scientific evidence on aetiology, pathophysiology and treatment is, at this stage, grossly deficient. More research is required to understand the biological mechanisms involved and to clarify the role that genetic, environmental and infectious agents might have in the aetiology and pathophysiology of this complex and debilitating illness.
- The medical community, other health professionals and patients and their families should work together to encourage increased funding and research into the epidemiology, aetiology and pathophysiology of CFS so that we may find more effective treatments for this condition (or these conditions).
All clinical guidelines should be viewed as documents that will, in time, require refinement, rewriting and replacement. Doctors must be cognisant of the limitations of all such guidelines and be aware that the investigation and management of a patient's condition must be determined with the assistance of the best and latest information as it emerges and, in all instances, be tailored to the needs of the individual patient.
1. Chronic fatigue syndrome. Clinical practice guidelines Ñ 2002. Med J Aust 2002; 176 (6 May Suppl): S17-S56.
(Received 3 Jun 2002, accepted 3 Jun 2002)
Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Sydney, NSW.
Richard G Larkins, FRACP, Immediate Past-President.
ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Association of Australia, Hampton, VIC.
Simon R Molesworth, AM, QC, Chairman.
Correspondence: Professor Richard G Larkins, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 145 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000. firstname.lastname@example.org
©The Medical Journal of Australia 2002 ISSN: 0025-729X
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