Dr David Tuller: CBT for CFS Should Target “Problematic Worry,” Says New Study from Professor Chalder


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Trial By Error: CBT for CFS Should Target “Problematic Worry,” Says New Study from Professor Chalder

28 January 2022 Leave a Comment
By David Tuller, DrPH
Apparently, after 30+ years of promoting cognitive behavior therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome (so-called), Professor Trudie Chalder has discovered something new: Patients worry a lot! And those with worse symptoms tend to have higher worry levels! She believes CBT for CFS can be tweaked to make a difference. She presents this information in a new study, published in the journal Behavior Therapy–yet another in which she and her colleagues disavow the possibility of inferring causality but use causal language anyway.

The article, posted a few days ago, is called “Generalised worry in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome following Cognitive Behavioural Therapy–a prospective cohort study in secondary care.” Sten Helmfrid made me laugh with this tweet about it: “Professor Chalder concludes that patients with #ME/CFS worry a lot and suggests that CBT should focus on the issue. One of the reasons that patients worry is the large number of substandard CBT papers that are pumped out. I don’t think CBT is the solution!”

The study involved a cohort of 470 people with CFS [I am using this name in this post because the study uses it] attending a specialty care clinic between 2007 and 2014 and receiving CBT. Participants completed self-report measures, including a measure of “generalized worry,” at baseline, discharge from treatment, and follow-up at three months and six months. More than 70% met the study’s criteria for “generalised worry” at baseline.