Defining and measuring recovery from myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome: the physician perspective, by Andrew R. Devendorf, Carly T. Jackson, Madison Sunnquist & Leonard A. Jason in Disability and Rehabilitation [Published online: 05 Oct 2017]
To inform an operationalised definition of recovery from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) for research and practice. Without a consensus on defining and measuring recovery, there will continue to be controversy amongst researchers, clinicians, and patients when interpreting treatment outcomes.
This study explores physicians’ views on recovery from ME and CFS. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 10 physician participants who are experts in the ME and CFS field. Our deductive thematic analysis, using a realist perspective, provided a framework for differentiating recovery and significant improvement.
Physicians conceptualised recovery as complete symptom remission and a return to premorbid functioning (adjusted for with age), whereas they viewed significant improvement as a substantial reduction in symptoms with considerable functional gains, where patients may operate in daily life but still must cope or be treated.
Our findings provide recommendations and approaches for measuring: daily functioning, symptomatology, quality of life, and physical functioning.
- Implications for rehabilitation
- Physicians viewed recovery as complete symptom remission and a return to premorbid functioning (adjusted for with age).
- Recovery from myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome should be viewed as multidimensional, considering patients’ daily life, psychosocial functioning, and overall physical functioning.
- These findings can improve practitioner-client interactions, as they provide recommendations for measuring recovery in research and practice.