You probably remember that one of the October 2012 CFSAC recommendations was
“CFSAC recommends that you will promptly convene (by 12/31/12 or as soon as possible thereafter) at least one stakeholders’ (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)experts, patients, advocates) workshop in consultation with CFSAC members to reach a consensus for a case definition useful for research, diagnosis and treatment of ME/CFS beginning with the 2003 Canadian Consensus Definition for discussion purposes.”
We know that CDC has a definition initiative as part of its multi-site study, and we know that NIH and AHRQ have said they were conducting a research case definition process.
In his letter to the CFSAC on May 1, 2013 Dr. Howard Koh (Assistant Secretary of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services - DHHS) wrote:
“The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is convening an Evidence-based Methodology Workshop process . . . to address the issue of case definitions appropriate for ME/CFS research. However, it will not cover in detail a clinical case definition. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services, is actively pursuing options for a separate effort that would work in coordination with the NIH process, but result in a case definition useful for clinicians who see patients with symptoms that may be ME/CFS. . . . .” (http://www.occupycfs.com/2013/06/03/perplexed/ )
There was no indication at that time what the options were that were being actively pursued but now we learn that the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (Dr. Koh's office) is going to have the Board on the Health of Select Populations at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) set up a committee “of thought leaders and stakeholders to comprehensively evaluate the current status of criteria for the diagnosis of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).” (https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=fb67835096d2486592952c90cd3acee7&tab=core&_cview=0)
The impact of the clinical diagnostic criteria they develop will be on the ME(cfs) community is a big question.
Earlier this year the IOM Board on the Health of Select Populations produced a report on Gulf War Illness (which they refer to as Chronic Multisymptom Illness or CMI – which is almost as board a categorization as the term chronic fatigue syndrome). (http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2013/Gulf-War-and-HealthTreatment-for-Chronic-Multisymptom-Illness.aspx)
That report seemed heavily focused on psychological concerns, and CBT and GET were included in their clinical practice guidelines for treatment of GWI.
This same report talks about chronic fatigue syndrome (that's how they refer to I) as being among co-morbid conditions with GWI, includes the 1994 Fukuda definition (http://www.cfids-me.org/cdcdefine.html) and the “2007 NICE Guidelines for CFS” (http://publications.nice.org.uk/chronic-fatigue-syndromemyalgic-encephalomyelitis-or-encephalopathy-cg53) and has the following pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatment recommendations for chronic fatigue syndrome:
“Chronic fatigue syndrome
• NSAIDs for pain symptoms
• Melatonin for problems in sleeping
• Antidepressants for depression and to improve sleep quality
• CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
• Graded exercise therapy
• Lifestyle changes (for example, regular sleeping schedule; avoidance of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco; and dietary changes)
• Alternative therapies (for example, yoga, Tai Chi, acupuncture, and massage)
• CPAP for problems in sleeping”
This OccupyCFS post http://www.occupycfs.com/2013/08/29/iom-on-the-case/ poses a few of the many questions that come to mind about the IOM initiative on ME(cfs) clinical diagnostic criteria.
Many view the GWI report as heavy on inadequate and inappropriate treatment approaches (for GWI and ME(cfs) among other things) with emphasis on psychological rather than biological processes.
The suggestion in the GWI report that CBT, GET, and a massage or two - or perhaps yoga, will treat our illness(es), and that in chronic fatigue syndrome (again, this is THEIR term, not ours), cognitive dysfunction tends to be mild, and that the report makes no mention of PEM/PENE, one wonders what sort of materials the IOM will be accessing to develop their clinical criteria.
Will the IOM produce clinical diagnostic criteria that accurately captures the complexity of ME(cfs)?
(By the way, it is estimated that an IOM initiative typically costs one million US dollars.)
Update 31 Aug 2013:
Thanks to those responsible for getting the response date extended to Sept. 11, 2013 (4pm Eastern time)
Hat Tip and MANY thanks to Leela Play for finding the notice.