Investigating undergraduate medical education on myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome
Cardiff University medical student Victoria Alice Reid & Dr Nina Muirhead surveyed 94 students from more than 16 medical schools across the UK. 35% of the students did not know what ME/CFS was and 88% said that the disease had not been covered in their course so far. 89% of participants wished to learn more about ME/CFS, specifically through e-learning and videos.
“ME/CFS is not just yet another disease to add to overburdened curricula, it is unique in that there is a worsening of repeat cardiovascular exercise physiology, and exacerbation of disease symptoms on exertion. Patients with ME/CFS are an exception because the usual advice to exercise could cause harm.”
Background and Objectives:
ME/CFS is a poorly understood, highly stigmatised condition which significantly reduces patients’ quality of life. ME/CFS had been identified as a gap in many health professionals’ knowledge, therefore this research aims to explore the understanding of ME/CFS amongst UK medical students.
An online survey developed using Redcap was distributed to participants who were recruited via social media or via medical societies’ emails. The participants were undergraduate UK medical students.
94 students completed the survey from more than 16 medical schools. 35% of the students did not know what ME/CFS is and 88% say that the disease has not been covered in their course so far. 89% of participants would like to learn more about ME/CFS, specifically through e-learning and videos.
Participants were generally unaware of ME/CFS and its symptoms and had not received relevant teaching or exposure to the disease. Education on ME/CFS within undergraduate UK medical schools is currently inadequate and the interest expressed by students in this survey demonstrates a new teaching opportunity for UK medical schools.
“The Covid pandemic raised awareness of Long Covid and ME/ CFS at the time of the survey, which may have made students more interested in participating.”
in The British Student Doctor Vol 6 No.1 2022, Published 1 Dec 2022