The Centre for Welfare Reform has published a 64-page report criticising the PACE trial and relating the study to the debate over welfare reform and cuts to disability benefits in the UK.
The report’s author, George Faulkner, discusses how the biopsychosocial model has helped create a climate in Britain in which the sick are seen as having an ability and a duty to rehabilitate themselves by altering their thoughts and behaviour.
Faulkner points out serious shortcomings in biopsychosocial research and writes, “Had homeopaths or a pharmaceutical company conducted a trial and presented results in the manner of the PACE trial the British research community would have been unlikely to overlook its problems.”
He also discusses the links between the biopsychosocial movement, the government, and the insurance industry. He concludes, “The way in which the biopsychosocial model has been used and promoted, without good supporting evidence for many of the claims being made, is unethical.”
The Centre for Welfare Reform, a network of researchers who focus on matters of social justice, said, “PACE… provides a clear example of the problems which can affect academic research and distort our understanding of important issues.”
Dr Simon Duffy, the organisation’s director, said that in PACE, “pain and fatigue have been reclassified as recovery and now medical researchers fight to keep important information from the public.”
Writing in the Huffington Post about the report, Duffy said, “Another analysis of this research in the Journal of Neurology and Neurobiology proposes that the therapies recommended by the PACE trial are so harmful that, if they were medicines, they would be withdrawn from the market.”
Mr Faulkner, an independent researcher, said that he “did not intend to write this report.” He had been asked to write a summary of others’ concerns about PACE but “What was expected to be two weeks of work led to three years of research and fact-checking, along with the grim realisation that the problems in this area were so serious and widespread that that no-one could hope to explore them comprehensively.”