Healthcare, Special Issue: ME/CFS ― The Severely and Very Severely Affected

From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history
Source: Healthcare journal. ©︎MDPI Journals.

This page contains a list of the articles in the special issue of Healthcare ME/CFS: The Severely and Very Severely Affected Psychology, which concerns housebound and bedbound Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients. Articles were published online from 2020 to 2021.[1]

Intention[edit | edit source]

The intention was to redefine ME/CFS to show the seriousness of the disease. According to the editors, severely and very severely affected patients have been excluded from all literature and case definitions of ME/CFS, and diagnosis, patient management, and case definitions have been based on the more mobile ME/CFS patient. The editors refer to the approximately 25% of ME/CFS patients estimated to have severe or very severe ME/CFS as a "hidden patient population".[1]

Editors[edit | edit source]

Summary video[edit | edit source]

Reviews[edit | edit source]

Abstract - We have developed a Europe-wide approach to investigating the economic impact of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), facilitating acquisition of information on the economic burden of ME/CFS, and international comparisons of economic costs between countries. The economic burden of ME/CFS in Europe appears large, with productivity losses most significant, giving scope for substantial savings through effective prevention and treatment. However, economic studies of ME/CFS, including cost-of-illness analyses and economic evaluations of interventions, are problematic due to different, arbitrary case definitions, and unwillingness of doctors to diagnose it. We therefore lack accurate incidence and prevalence data, with no obvious way to estimate costs incurred by undiagnosed patients. Other problems include, as for other conditions, difficulties estimating direct and indirect costs incurred by healthcare systems, patients and families, and heterogeneous healthcare systems and patterns of economic development across countries. We have made recommendations, including use of the Fukuda (CDC-1994) case definition and Canadian Consensus Criteria (CCC), a pan-European common symptom checklist, and implementation of prevalence-based cost-of-illness studies in different countries using an agreed data list. We recommend using purchasing power parities (PPP) to facilitate international comparisons, and EuroQol-5D as a generic measure of health status and multi-attribute utility instrument to inform future economic evaluations in ME/CFS.

Abstract: People who are severely and very severely affected by Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) experience profound suffering. This suffering comes from the myriad of losses these patients experience, the grief that comes from these losses, the ongoing stigma that is often experienced as a person with a poorly understood, controversial chronic illness, and the trauma that can result from how other people and the health care community respond to this illness. This review article examines the suffering of patients with ME/CFS through the lens of the Fennell Four-Phase Model of chronic illness. Using a systems approach, this phase framework illustrates the effects of suffering on the patient and can be utilized to help the clinician, patient, family, and caregivers understand and respond to the patient’s experiences. We highlight the constructs of severity, uncertainty, ambiguity, and chronicity and their role in the suffering endured by patients with ME/CFS. A composite case example is used to illustrate the lives of severely and very severely affected patients. Recommendations for health care providers treating patients with ME/CFS are given and underscore the importance of providers understanding the intense suffering that the severely and very severely affected patients experience.

Abstract - Children with ME/CFS who are severely ill are bedbound and homebound, and oftentimes also wheelchair-dependent. Very seriously affected children are often too sick for doctor’s office visits, let alone school attendance. The most recent data estimate that 2–5% of children may be severely affected or bedridden. However, there is no recent research that confirms these numbers. The severely ill receive little help from their schools, and are socially isolated. This article outlines several suggestions for the type of education that students with ME/CFS should be receiving and develops a preliminary sketch of the web of resources and emergent techniques necessary to achieve these outcomes.

Abstract - Adult patients affected by myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) are at an increased risk of death by suicide. Based on the scientific literature and our clinical/research experiences, we identify risk and protective factors and provide a guide to assessing and managing suicidality in an outpatient medical setting. A clinical case is used to illustrate how information from this article can be applied. Characteristics of ME/CFS that make addressing suicidality challenging include absence of any disease-modifying treatments, severe functional limitations, and symptoms which limit therapies. Decades-long misattribution of ME/CFS to physical deconditioning or psychiatric disorders have resulted in undereducated healthcare professionals, public stigma, and unsupportive social interactions. Consequently, some patients may be reluctant to engage with mental health care. Outpatient medical professionals play a vital role in mitigating these effects. By combining evidence-based interventions aimed at all suicidal patients with those adapted to individual patients’ circumstances, suffering and suicidality can be alleviated in ME/CFS. Increased access to newer virtual or asynchronous modalities of psychiatric/psychological care, especially for severely ill patients, may be a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abstract - This article provides a narrative review on myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) through a psychosocial lens and examines how this impairment affects its sufferers during adolescence and adulthood, as well as how it impacts family caregivers and healthcare professionals' mental health. Since there has been a lack of investigation in the literature, the primary psychosocial stressor that this review focuses on is loneliness. As such, and in an attempt to help establish a theoretical framework regarding how loneliness may impact ME/CFS, loneliness is comprehensively reviewed, and its relation to chronic illness is described. We conclude by discussing a variety of coping strategies that may be employed by ME/CFS individuals to address their loneliness. Future directions and ways with which the literature may investigate loneliness and ME/CFS are discussed.

Abstract - The findings of controlled trials on use of intravenous immunoglobulin G (IV IgG) to treat myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) are generally viewed as representing mixed results. On detailed review, a clearer picture emerges, which suggests that the potential therapeutic value of this intervention has been underestimated. Our analysis is consistent with the propositions that: (1) IgG is highly effective for a proportion of patients with severe and well-characterised ME/CFS; (2) responders can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy based on markers of immune dysfunction. Rigorous steps were taken in the research trials to record adverse events, with transient symptom exacerbation commonly experienced in both intervention and placebo control groups, suggesting that this reflected the impact of participation on people with an illness characterised by post-exertional symptom exacerbation. Worsening of certain specific symptoms, notably headache, did occur more commonly with IgG and may have been concomitant to effective treatment, being associated with clinical improvement. The findings emerging from this review are supported by clinical observations relating to treatment of patients with severe and very severe ME/CFS, for whom intramuscular and subcutaneous administration provide alternative options. We conclude that: (1) there is a strong case for this area of research to be revived; (2) pending further research, clinicians would be justified in offering a course of IgG to selected ME/CFS patients at the more severe end of the spectrum. As the majority of trial participants had experienced an acute viral or viral-like onset, we further suggest that IgG treatment may be pertinent to the care of some patients who remain ill following infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Systematic Review[edit | edit source]

Background - Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a multifaceted illness characterized by profound and persistent fatigue unrelieved by rest along with a range of other debilitating symptoms. Experiences of unrefreshing and disturbed sleep are frequently described by ME/CFS patients. This is the first systematic review assessing sleep characteristics in ME/CFS. The aim of this review is to determine whether there are clinical characteristics of sleep in ME/CFS patients compared to healthy controls using objective measures such as polysomnography and multiple sleep latency testing.
Methods - the following databases—Pubmed, Embase, Medline (EBSCO host) and Web of Science, were systematically searched for journal articles published between January 1994 to 19 February 2021. Articles that referred to polysomnography or multiple sleep latency testing and ME/CFS patients were selected, and further refined through use of specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. Quality and bias were measured using the Joanna Briggs Institute checklist.
Results - twenty observational studies were included in this review. The studies investigated objective measures of sleep quality in ME/CFS. Subjective measures including perceived sleep quality and other quality of life factors were also described.
Conclusions - Many of the parameters measured including slow- wave sleep, apnea- hypopnea index, spectral activity and multiple sleep latency testing were inconsistent across the studies. The available research on sleep quality in ME/CFS was also limited by recruitment decisions, confounding factors, small sample sizes and non-replicated findings. Future well-designed studies are required to understand sleep quality in ME/CFS patients.

Research[edit | edit source]

Introduction - In a study of 429 adults with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), we demonstrated that 86% had symptoms of orthostatic intolerance in daily life. Using extracranial Doppler measurements of the internal carotid and vertebral arteries during a 30-min head-up tilt to 70 degrees, 90% had an abnormal reduction in cerebral blood flow (CBF). A standard head-up tilt test of this duration might not be tolerated by the most severely affected bed-ridden ME/CFS patients. This study examined whether a shorter 15-min test at a lower 20 degree tilt angle would be sufficient to provoke reductions in cerebral blood flow in severe ME/CFS patients.
Methods and results - Nineteen severe ME/CFS patients with orthostatic intolerance complaints in daily life were studied: 18 females. The mean (SD) age was 35(14) years, body surface area (BSA) was 1.8(0.2) m2 and BMI was 24.0(5.4) kg/m2. The median disease duration was 14 (IQR 5–18) years. Heart rate increased, and stroke volume index and end-tidal CO2 decreased significantly during the test (p ranging from <0.001 to <0.0001). The cardiac index decreased by 26(7)%: p < 0.0001. CBF decreased from 617(72) to 452(63) mL/min, a 27(5)% decline. All 19 severely affected ME/CFS patients met the criteria for an abnormal CBF reduction.
Conclusions - Using a less demanding 20 degree tilt test for 15 min in severe ME/CFS patients resulted in a mean CBF decline of 27%. This is comparable to the mean 26% decline previously noted in less severely affected patients studied during a 30-min 70 degree head-up tilt. These observations have implications for the evaluation and treatment of severely affected individuals with ME/CFS.

  • Two-Day Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing in Females with a Severe Grade of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Comparison with Patients with Mild and Moderate Disease[10] (Jun 30, 2020) by C (Linda) M. C. van Campen, Peter C. Rowe and Frans C. Visser. Healthcare 2020, 8(3), 192.

    Introduction - Effort intolerance along with a prolonged recovery from exercise and post-exertional exacerbation of symptoms are characteristic features of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). The gold standard to measure the degree of physical activity intolerance is cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET). Multiple studies have shown that peak oxygen consumption is reduced in the majority of ME/CFS patients, and that a 2-day CPET protocol further discriminates between ME/CFS patients and sedentary controls. Limited information is present on ME/CFS patients with a severe form of the disease. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the effects of a 2-day CPET protocol in female ME/CFS patients with a severe grade of the disease to mildly and moderately affected ME/CFS patients.
    Methods and results - We studied 82 female patients who had undergone a 2-day CPET protocol. Measures of oxygen consumption (VO2), heart rate (HR) and workload both at peak exercise and at the ventilatory threshold (VT) were collected. ME/CFS disease severity was graded according to the International Consensus Criteria. Thirty-one patients were clinically graded as having mild disease, 31 with moderate and 20 with severe disease. Baseline characteristics did not differ between the 3 groups. Within each severity group, all analyzed CPET parameters (peak VO2, VO2 at VT, peak workload and the workload at VT) decreased significantly from day-1 to day-2 (p-Value between 0.003 and <0.0001). The magnitude of the change in CPET parameters from day-1 to day-2 was similar between mild, moderate, and severe groups, except for the difference in peak workload between mild and severe patients (p = 0.019). The peak workload decreases from day-1 to day-2 was largest in the severe ME/CFS group (−19 (11) %).
    Conclusion - This relatively large 2-day CPET protocol study confirms previous findings of the reduction of various exercise variables in ME/CFS patients on day-2 testing. This is the first study to demonstrate that disease severity negatively influences exercise capacity in female ME/CFS patients. Finally, this study shows that the deterioration in peak workload from day-1 to day-2 is largest in the severe ME/CFS patient group.

Introduction - Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a severe and disabling chronic disease. Grading patient’s symptom and disease severity for comparison and therapeutic decision-making is necessary. Clinical grading that depends on patient self-report is subject to inter-individual variability. Having more objective measures to grade and confirm clinical grading would be desirable. Therefore, the aim of this study was to validate the clinical severity grading that has been proposed by the authors of the ME International Consensus Criteria (ICC) using more standardized measures like questionnaires, and objective measures such as physical activity tracking and cardiopulmonary exercise testing.
Methods and results - The clinical database of a subspecialty ME/CFS clinic was searched for patients who had completed the SF 36 questionnaire, worn a SensewearTM armband for five days, and undergone a cardiopulmonary exercise test. Only patients who completed all three investigations within 3 months from each other—to improve the likelihood of stable disease—were included in the analysis. Two-hundred-eighty-nine patients were analyzed: 121 were graded as mild, 98 as moderate and 70 as having severe disease. The mean (SD) physical activity subscale of the SF-36 was 70 (11) for mild, 43 (8) for moderate and 15 (10) for severe ME/CFS patients. The mean (SD) number of steps per day was 8235 (1004) for mild, 5195 (1231) for moderate and 2031 (824) for severe disease. The mean (SD) percent predicted oxygen consumption at the ventilatory threshold was 47 (11)% for mild, 38 (7)% for moderate and 30 (7)% for severe disease. The percent peak oxygen consumption was 90 (14)% for mild, 64 (8)% for moderate and 48 (9)% for severe disease. All comparisons were p < 0.0001.
Conclusions - This study confirms the validity of the ICC severity grading. Grading assigned by clinicians on the basis of patient self-report created groups that differed significantly on measures of activity using the SF-36 physical function subscale and objective measures of steps per day and exercise capacity. There was variability in function within severity grading groups, so grading based on self-report can be strengthened by the use of these supplementary measures.

Introduction - In a large study with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) patients, we showed that 86% had symptoms of orthostatic intolerance in daily life and that 90% had an abnormal reduction in cerebral blood flow (CBF) during a standard tilt test. A standard head-up tilt test might not be tolerated by the most severely affected bed-ridden ME/CFS patients. Sitting upright is a milder orthostatic stress. The present study examined whether a sitting test, measuring cerebral blood flow by extracranial Doppler, would be sufficient to provoke abnormal reductions in cerebral blood flow in severe ME/CFS patients.
Methods and results - 100 severe ME/CFS patients were studied, (88 females) and were compared with 15 healthy controls (HC) (13 females). CBF was measured first while seated for at least one hour, followed by a CBF measurement in the supine position. Fibromyalgia was present in 37 patients. Demographic data as well as supine heart rate and blood pressures were not different between ME/CFS patients and HC. Heart rate and blood pressure did not change significantly between supine and sitting both in patients and HC. Supine CBF was not different between patients and HC. In contrast, absolute CBF during sitting was lower in patients compared to HC: 474 (96) mL/min in patients and 627 (89) mL/min in HC; p < 0.0001. As a result, percent CBF reduction while seated was −24.5 (9.4)% in severe ME/CFS patients and −0.4 (1.2)% in HC (p < 0.0001). In the ten patients who had no orthostatic intolerance complaints in daily life, the CBF reduction was −2.7 (2.1)%, which was not significantly different from HC (p = 0.58). The remaining 90 patients with orthostatic intolerance complaints had a −26.9 (6.2)% CBF reduction. No difference in CBF parameters was found in patients with and without fibromyalgia. Patients with a previous diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) had a significantly larger CBF reduction compared with those without POTS: 28.8 (7.2)% vs. 22.3 (9.7)% (p = 0.0008).
Conclusions - A sitting test in severe ME/CFS patients was sufficient to provoke a clinically and statistically significant mean CBF decline of 24.5%. Patients with a previous diagnosis of POTS had a larger CBF reduction while seated, compared to patients without POTS. The magnitude of these CBF reductions is similar to the results in less severely affected ME/CFS patients during head-up tilt, suggesting that a sitting test is adequate for the diagnosis of orthostatic intolerance in severely affected patients.

Abstract - Fatigue can accompany various diseases; however, fatigue itself is a key symptom for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Due to the absence of biological parameters for the diagnosis and severity of CFS, the assessment tool for the degree of fatigue is very important. This study aims to verify the reliability and validity of the modified Korean version of the Chalder Fatigue Scale (mKCFQ11). This study was performed using data from 97 participants (Male: 37, Female: 60) enrolled in a clinical trial for an intervention of CFS. The analyses of the coefficient between the mKCFQ11 score and the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) or the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) at two time points (baseline and 12 weeks) as well as their changed values were conducted. The mKCFQ11 showed strong reliability, as evidenced by the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of 0.967 for the whole item and two subclasses (0.963 for physical and 0.958 for mental fatigue) along with the suitable validity of the mKCFQ11 structure shown by the principal component analysis. The mKCFQ11 scores also strongly correlated (higher than 0.7) with the VAS, FSS and SF-36 on all data from baseline and 12 weeks and changed values. This study demonstrated the clinical usefulness of the mKCFQ11 instrument, particularly in assessing the severity of fatigue and the evaluation of treatments for patients suffering from CFS.

Abstract - Persons living with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) vary widely in terms of the severity of their illness. It is estimated that of those living with ME/CFS in the United States, about 385,000 are homebound. There is a need to know more about different degrees of being homebound within this severely affected group. The current study examined an international sample of 2138 study participants with ME/CFS, of whom 549 were severely affected (operationalized as ‘Homebound’). A subsample of 89 very severely affected participants (operationalized as ‘Homebound-bedridden’) was also examined. The findings showed a significant association between severely and very severely affected participants within the post-exertional malaise (PEM) symptom domain. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Abstract - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a rare disease with no known etiology. It affects 0.4% of the population, 25% of which experience the severe and very severe categories; these are defined as being wheelchair-, house-, and bed-bound. Currently, the absence of biomarkers necessitates a diagnosis by exclusion, which can create stigma around the illness. Very little research has been conducted with the partly defined severe and very severe categories of CFS/ME. This is in part because the significant health burdens experienced by these people create difficulties engaging in research and healthcare provision as it is currently delivered. This qualitative study explores the experiences of five individuals living with CFS/ME in its most severe form through semi-structured interviews. A six-phase themed analysis was performed using interview transcripts, which included identifying, analysing, and reporting patterns amongst the interviews. Inductive analysis was performed, coding the data without trying to fit it into a pre-existing framework or pre-conception, allowing the personal experiences of the five individuals to be expressed freely. Overarching themes of ‘Lived Experience’, ‘Challenges to daily life’, and ‘Management of the condition’ were identified. These themes highlight factors that place people at greater risk of experiencing the more severe presentation of CFS/ME. It is hoped that these insights will allow research and clinical communities to engage more effectively with the severely affected CFS/ME population.

Abstract - One in four myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) patients are estimated to be severely affected by the disease, and these house-bound or bedbound patients are currently understudied. Here, we report a comprehensive examination of the symptoms and clinical laboratory tests of a cohort of severely ill patients and healthy controls. The greatly reduced quality of life of the patients was negatively correlated with clinical depression. The most troublesome symptoms included fatigue (85%), pain (65%), cognitive impairment (50%), orthostatic intolerance (45%), sleep disturbance (35%), post-exertional malaise (30%), and neurosensory disturbance (30%). Sleep profiles and cognitive tests revealed distinctive impairments. Lower morning cortisol level and alterations in its diurnal rhythm were observed in the patients, and antibody and antigen measurements showed no evidence for acute infections by common viral or bacterial pathogens. These results highlight the urgent need of developing molecular diagnostic tests for ME/CFS. In addition, there was a striking similarity in symptoms between long COVID and ME/CFS, suggesting that studies on the mechanism and treatment of ME/CFS may help prevent and treat long COVID and vice versa.

Background - Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating condition associated with several negative health outcomes. A hallmark of ME/CFS is decreased exercise capacity and often profound exercise intolerance. The causes of ME/CSF and its related symptoms are unknown, but there are indications of a dysregulated metabolism with impaired glycolytic vs oxidative energy balance. In line with this, we recently demonstrated abnormal lactate accumulation among ME/CFS patients compared with healthy controls after exercise testing. Here we examined if cardiac dimensions and function were altered in ME/CFS, as this could lead to increased lactate production.
Methods - We studied 16 female ME/CFS patients and 10 healthy controls with supine transthoracic echocardiography, and we assessed cardiac dimensions and function by conventional echocardiographic and Doppler analysis as well as novel tissue Doppler and strain variables.
Results - A detailed analyses of key variables of cardiac dimensions and cardiac function revealed no significant differences between the two study groups.
Conclusion -: In this cohort of well-described ME/CFS patients, we found no significant differences in echocardiographic variables characterizing cardiac dimensions and function compared with healthy controls.

Abstract - Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex multi-system disease with no cure and no FDA-approved treatment. Approximately 25% of patients are house or bedbound, and some are so severe in function that they require tube-feeding and are unable to tolerate light, sound, and human touch. The overall goal of this case report was to (1) describe how past events (e.g., chronic sinusitis, amenorrhea, tick bites, congenital neutropenia, psychogenic polydipsia, food intolerances, and hypothyroidism) may have contributed to the development of severe ME/CFS in a single patient, and (2) the extensive medical interventions that the patient has pursued in an attempt to recover, which enabled her to return to graduate school after becoming bedridden with ME/CFS 4.5 years prior. This paper aims to increase awareness of the harsh reality of ME/CFS and the potential complications following initiation of any level of intervention, some of which may be necessary for long-term healing. Treatments may induce severe paradoxical reactions (Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction) if high infectious loads are present. It is our hope that sharing this case will improve research and treatment options for ME/CFS.

Case reports[edit | edit source]

Abstract - A current problem regarding Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is the large proportion of doctors that are either not trained or refuse to recognize ME/CFS as a genuine clinical entity, and as a result do not diagnose it. An additional problem is that most of the clinical and research studies currently available on ME are focused on patients who are ambulant and able to attend clinics and there is very limited data on patients who are very severe (housebound or bedbound), despite the fact that they constitute an estimated 25% of all ME/CFS cases. This author has personal experience of managing and advising on numerous cases of severe paediatric ME, and offers a series of case reports of individual cases as a means of illustrating various points regarding clinical presentation, together with general principles of appropriate management.

Abstract - Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex, only partially understood multi-system disease whose onset and severity vary widely. Symptoms include overwhelming fatigue, post-exertional malaise, sleep disruptions, gastrointestinal issues, headaches, orthostatic intolerance, cognitive impairment, etc. ME/CFS is a physiological disease with an onset often triggered by a viral or bacterial infection, and sometimes by toxins. Some patients have a mild case and are able to function nearly on a par with healthy individuals, while others are moderately ill and still others are severely, or even, very severely ill. The cohort of moderately to very severely ill is often housebound or bedbound, has lost employment or career, and has engaged in a long, and often futile, search for treatment and relief. Here, we present three case studies, one each of a moderately ill, a severely ill, and a very severely ill person, to demonstrate the complexity of the disease, the suffering of these patients, and what health care providers can do to help.

Abstract - Very severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) can lead to problems with nutrition and hydration. The reasons can be an inability to swallow, severe gastrointestinal problems tolerating food or the patient being too debilitated to eat and drink. Some patients with very severe ME will require tube feeding, either enterally or parenterally. There can often be a significant delay in implementing this, due to professional opinion, allowing the patient to become severely malnourished. Healthcare professionals may fail to recognize that the problems are a direct consequence of very severe ME, preferring to postulate psychological theories rather than addressing the primary clinical need. We present five case reports in which delay in instigating tube feeding led to severe malnutrition of a life-threatening degree. This case study aims to alert healthcare professionals to these realities.

Commentaries[edit | edit source]

Abstract - Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is an illness defined predominantly by symptoms. Routine laboratory test results often are normal, raising the question of whether there are any underlying objective abnormalities. In the past 20 years, however, new research technologies have uncovered a series of biological abnormalities in people with ME/CFS. Unfortunately, many physicians remain unaware of this, and some tell patients that “there is nothing wrong” with them. This skepticism delegitimizes, and thereby multiplies, the patients’ suffering.

Opinion and Perspective[edit | edit source]

Abstract - Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) can cause a wide range of severity and functional impairment, leaving some patients able to work while others are homebound or bedbound. The most severely ill patients may need total care. Yet, patients with severe or very severe ME/CFS struggle to receive appropriate medical care because they cannot travel to doctors’ offices and their doctors lack accurate information about the nature of this disease and how to diagnose and manage it. Recently published clinical guidance provides updated information about ME/CFS but advice on caring for the severely ill is limited. This article is intended to fill that gap. Based on published clinical guidance and clinical experience, we describe the clinical presentation of severe ME/CFS and provide patient-centered recommendations on diagnosis, assessment and approaches to treatment and management. We also provide suggestions to support the busy provider in caring for these patients by leveraging partnerships with the patient, their caregivers, and other providers and by using technology such as telemedicine. Combined with compassion, humility, and respect for the patient’s experience, such approaches can enable the primary care provider and other healthcare professionals to provide the care these patients require and deserve.

Abstract - This review raises a number of compelling issues related to the condition of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Some historical perspective is necessary in order to highlight the nature of the controversy concerning its causation. Throughout history, a pattern tends to repeat itself when natural phenomena require explanation. Dogma usually arrives first, then it is eventually replaced by scientific understanding. The same pattern is unfolding in relation to ME/CFS, but supporters of the psychological dogma surrounding its causation remain stubbornly resistant, even in the face of compelling scientific evidence to the contrary. Acceptance of the latter is not just an academic issue; the route to proper understanding and treatment of ME/CFS is through further scientific research rather than psychological theorisation. Only then will a long-suffering patient group benefit.

Abstract - A personal account from an Extremely Severe Bedridden ME/CFS patient about the experience of living with extremely severe ME/CFS. Illness progression, medical history, description of various aspects of extremely severe ME/CFS and various essays on specific experiences are included.

Abstract - Many people with severe Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) commonly receive no care from healthcare professionals, while some have become distanced from all statutory medical services. Paradoxically, it is often the most seriously ill and needy who are the most neglected by those responsible for their healthcare. Reasons for this include tensions around the complexity of making an accurate diagnosis in the absence of a biomarker, the bitter debate about the effectiveness of the few available treatments, and the very real stigma associated with the diagnosis. Illness severity often precludes attendance at healthcare facilities, and if an individual is well enough to be able to attend an appointment, the presentation will not be typical; by definition, patients who are severely affected are home-bound and often confined to bed. We argue that a holistic model, such as ‘‘Compassion in Practice’’, can help with planning appointments and caring for people severely affected by ME/CFS. We show how this can be used to frame meaningful interactions between the healthcare practitioners (HCPs) and the homebound patient.

See also[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Healthcare". MDPI Journals. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  2. Pheby, Derek F.H.; Araja, Diana; Berkis, Uldis; Brenna, Elenka; Cullinan, John; de Korwin, Jean-Dominique; Gitto, Lara; Hughes, Dyfrig A.; Hunter, Rachael M. (June 2020). "The Development of a Consistent Europe-Wide Approach to Investigating the Economic Impact of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS): A Report from the European Network on ME/CFS (EUROMENE)". Healthcare. 8 (2): 88. doi:10.3390/healthcare8020088. PMC 7349118. PMID 32272608.
  3. Fennell, Patricia A.; Dorr, Nancy; George, Shane S. (April 2021). "Elements of Suffering in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Experience of Loss, Grief, Stigma, and Trauma in the Severely and Very Severely Affected". Healthcare. 9 (5): 553. doi:10.3390/healthcare9050553. PMC 8150911. PMID 34065069.
  4. Newton, Faith R. (June 2021). "The Impact of Severe ME/CFS on Student Learning and K–12 Educational Limitations". Healthcare. 9 (6): 627. doi:10.3390/healthcare9060627. PMC 8225090. PMID 34070286.
  5. Chu, Lily; Elliott, Meghan; Stein, Eleanor; Jason, Leonard A. (May 25, 2021). "Identifying and Managing Suicidality in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome". Healthcare. 9 (6): 629. doi:10.3390/healthcare9060629. ISSN 2227-9032. PMC 8227525. PMID 34070367.
  6. Boulazreg, Samir; Rokach, Ami (December 2020). "The Lonely, Isolating, and Alienating Implications of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome". Healthcare. 8 (4): 413. doi:10.3390/healthcare8040413. PMC 7711762. PMID 33092097.
  7. Brownlie, Helen; Speight, Nigel (November 12, 2021). "Back to the Future? Immunoglobulin Therapy for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome". Healthcare. 9 (11): 1546. doi:10.3390/healthcare9111546. ISSN 2227-9032. PMC 8623195. PMID 34828592.
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