The 'Cognitive Behavioural Model' of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Critique of a Flawed Model

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Abstract

Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis is a debilitating illness that greatly impacts the lives of sufferers. A cognitive behavioural model attempts to explain illness onset and continuance with a hypothesis that the illness is perpetuated by patients' irrational beliefs and avoidance behaviours. This theory underpins the promotion of cognitive behavioural therapy, a treatment that aims to change beliefs and behaviours. This paper reports on a detailed review of the cognitive behavioural model. Our review finds that the model lacks high-quality evidential support, conflicts with accounts given by most patients, and fails to account for accumulating biological evidence of pathological and physiological abnormalities found in patients. There is little scientific credibility in the claim that psycho-behavioural therapies are a primary treatment for this illness.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Psychology Open
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Feb 2019