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BMJ Should Retract Flawed Research Paper On Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Sunday 15 December 2019


From STAT:


Empty shoes
Empty shoes represent individuals who were too ill to join a
demonstration in The Hague, Netherlands, organized by
#MillionsMissing to draw attention to people
suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.
(Photo: Peter de Jong/AP)

BMJ should retract flawed research paper on chronic fatigue syndrome

By David Tuller
December 13, 2019
© 2019 STAT.

Few journals have been more admirable than The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) and some of its sister publications under the BMJ brand in highlighting issues of direct significance to health care consumers. So it is baffling — and troubling — when BMJ editors fail to take appropriate action to address unacceptable lapses in high-profile research they have published.

For years, the reading list for my journalism class on public health and medicine at the University of California, Berkeley, included groundbreaking articles in The BMJ on “disease-mongering” — how pharmaceutical companies have manipulated and misrepresented research data to expand existing diagnostic categories and create new ones. I have also appreciated BMJ’s campaign for open access to trial data and its forays into investigative journalism.

Much of this hard-hitting approach can be attributed to Dr. Fiona Godlee, the Cambridge University-educated physician who has led the organization since 2005. Godlee is both editorial director of BMJ, which publishes dozens of titles, and editor-in-chief of The BMJ, one of the world’s leading medical journals. A 2016 profile of Godlee in STAT called her a “crusading editor” who “aims to shake things up in science.” The BMJ, she told STAT, is “a campaigning journal.”

That’s why I am disappointed at how BMJ and Godlee have handled a seriously problematic paper in a field I know well — behavioral and psychological interventions for the illness (or cluster of illnesses) often called chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) but also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), CFS/ME, and ME/CFS, among other names.


Full article…



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