In response to an article on Long Covid last week, the Guardian published a letter from three men – Dr Alistair Miller, Professor Paul Garner and Professor Peter White. This letter spread false information about the efficacy and safety of graded exercise therapy for ME and Long Covid.
We are pleased to see that The Guardian has now published two further letters disputing this misinformation. Dr Charles Shepherd and Rachel Harding concisely rebut the claim that graded exercise therapy is safe and effective.
#MEAction UK spokesperson Sian Leary also wrote to The Guardian in response to the Miller, Garner & White letter. You can read her letter below.
We are considering further measures to combat the continued peddling of misinformation around graded exercise therapy. It is vital that people with ME and those with Long Covid understand the harms of this approach, and that healthcare professionals do not provide discredited advice that endangers their patients.
In their letter published 11th March 2021, Dr Miller, Prof Garner and Prof White assert that no trials of graded exercise therapy have shown harm to patients.
Curiously, they do not mention the mass of survey data demonstrating that a majority of people with ME report deteriorating following graded exercise therapy.1,2
Considering two of these men have staked their professional careers on graded exercise being safe and effective for people with ME, it is hard not to question whether their selective and incomplete presentation of evidence has an ulterior motive.
In fact, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence has recently released draft guidelines for the treatment of ME that state “Do not offer people with ME/CFS any programme based on fixed incremental increases in physical activity or exercise, for example graded exercise therapy” noting that the trials of graded exercise therapy were of low or very low quality.3
Just as with drug treatments, therapies for Long Covid should be proven safe before they are recommended by health professionals.
#MEAction UK Spokesperson
Geraghty, K., Hann, M., & Kurtev, S. (2019). Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome patients’ reports of symptom changes following cognitive behavioural therapy, graded exercise therapy and pacing treatments: Analysis of a primary survey compared with secondary surveys. Journal of health psychology, 24(10), 1318-1333.
Oxford Clinical Allied Technology and Trials Services Unit (OxCATTS) (2020), Evaluation of a survey exploring the experiences of adults and children with ME/CFS who have participated in CBT and GET interventional programmes. https://www.meaction.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/NICE-Patient-Survey-Outcomes-CBT-and-GET-Oxford-Brookes-Full-Report-03.04.19.pdf
National Institute For Health And Care Excellence (2020) Guideline: Myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy)/chronic fatigue syndrome: diagnosis and management. Draft for consultation. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/gid-ng10091/documents/draft-guideline