If you are not familiar with The Conversation, I urge you to check it out. It is "an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public." Funded by a number of U.S., U.K., and Australian foundations, its motto is: Academic Rigor; Journalistic Flair. Articles are posted daily, in fields including the arts, religion, politics, and science. The Conversation is where my brother published his article on Bob Dylan, for example, which I linked here. You can subscribe to The Conversation's very informative daily newsletter here.
Today, my new article on ME/CFS is up on The Conversation. Here is the gist:
The story began in 2005, when a group of psychiatrists set out to test their theory that ME/CFS is primarily a psychosocial illness, characterized by patients’ “unhelpful cognitions” and their “dysfunctional” beliefs that their symptoms are caused by an organic disease.
Under this assumption, they recruited over 600 ME/CFS patients for the PACE trial and randomly divided them into four categories. One group was treated with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), a form of psychotherapy that addresses patients’ “false perceptions” of their illness, and a second group received graded exercise therapy (GET), which consisted of supervised increases in their activity levels. The other two groups were essentially controls, receiving neither of the treatments under study.
In a 2013 article in Psychological Medicine, the PACE team announced its most striking results. This follow-up article claimed that the therapy arms of the study – CBT and GET – had achieved impressive 22 percent recovery rates – not just improvement rates – as opposed to only seven or eight percent in the control arms.
There was just one problem. A subsequent investigation found that the PACE investigators had changed the standard for recovery midstream, weakening one of the key criteria to the point that a subject could actually have gotten worse in the course of the trial and yet still count as “recovered” following supervised GET.
A group of patients and scholars reanalyzed the PACE data according to the original determinants and, as suspected, the “recoveries” under CBT and GET all but disappeared.
You can read the whole article here.
One more important feature of The Conversation: Anyone can republish the articles without charge (there are a few exceptions, and proper credit must be given, of course).