The Role of Prevention in Reducing the Economic Impact of ME/CFS in Europe: A Report from the Socioeconomics Working Group of the European Network on ME/CFS (EUROMENE) by Derek F H Pheby, Diana Araja, Uldis Berkis, Elenka Brenna, John Cullinan, Jean-Dominique de Korwin, Lara Gitto, Dyfrig A Hughes, Rachael M Hunter, Dominic Trepel and Xia Wang-Steverding in Medicina 2021, 57(4), 388; [doi.org/10.3390/medicina57040388]
This report addresses the extent to which there may be scope for preventive programmes for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), and, if so, what economic benefits may accrue from the implementation of such programmes. We consider the economic case for prevention programmes, whether there is scope for preventive programmes for ME/CFS, and what are the health and economic benefits to be derived from the implementation of such programmes.
We conclude that there is little scope for primary prevention programmes, given that ME/CFS is attributable to a combination of host and environmental risk factors, with host factors appearing to be most prominent, and that there are few identified modifiable risk factors that could be the focus of such programmes. The exception is in the use of agricultural chemicals, particularly organophosphates, where there is scope for intervention, and where Europe-wide programmes of health education to encourage safe use would be beneficial.
There is a need for more research on risk factors for ME/CFS to establish a basis for the development of primary prevention programmes, particularly in respect of occupational risk factors. Secondary prevention offers the greatest scope for intervention, to minimise diagnostic delays associated with prolonged illness, increased severity, and increased costs.
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