From Alice Burchfield

I have been phoning the trial office but no answer yet!

I want to withdraw (from the FINE trials) for a whole load of reasons. I will try to explain some of them here but may not make much sense due to brain-fogginess so please excuse that.


1. Data they collected about me was misleading. Only questionnaires were used in the 2 sessions I had with the researchers and the questions were leading and did not reflect my true feelings. Also the researchers spent 2-3 hours with me each time which was so exhausting that I think I didn't really know what my replies were.

2. The trial totally disregards ME/CFS as an illness. It is based on a theory that our symptoms are due to deconditioning and maladapted beliefs about exercise. I was initially suspicious of this but agreed to it because it provided me with a lifeline (was great for me to believe I could get better through exercise) and also because in the initial session the nurse gave me a presentation which lasted over three hours. I was so exhausted. The disregard of the illness was reflected on a practical level. For example, they said that if I recover from exercise in ten minutes then I am working at the right level. I abided by this rule and later crashed due to delayed and accumulated effects (which are widely accepted features of this illness).
How this is ethical I do not know!

3. The program was hypocritical. They had strict rules for me to live by regarding pacing (yet gave me very little practical advice on this). Yet they felt it was okay to do 3 hour long sessions with me! It felt unworkable.

4. I crashed after the last session with them, so although my report was not glowing, it is highly misrepresentative of the actual outcome (probably my most important point)!! I am now worse than I have been in the duration of this condition.

5. The therapist who provided the intervention had very selective hearing and she would adapt whatever I said to fit into what she wanted to hear (I have examples of these but won't bore you).

6. The therapist was critical of me and unsupportive. She was defensive when I questioned things.

7. I believe the consent process was unethical. I was not aware what I was letting myself in for. (they did not explain the details of the intervention until after I had consented). In addition, the deconditioning theory was presented as fact and there was no mention of a balanced viewpoint (I have since read research that goes against this deconditioning theory).

8. Another example of my data not being represented properly: I suspended from University a couple of weeks before the start of the program and had started to improve from the rest. I continued to improve for a little while into the program. I made sure I highlighted that the cause of this improvement could be the effects of the program, or the rest I was getting. They were not interested in this - the fact that there was basically another aspect of my life that could be causing changes in my condition.

I was unhappy during the study but wanted to continue because I thought (stupidly) that in some small way I was helping the fight against ME. It is in realising that my data will probably be used in some way to support this program - that I feel made me so much worse - that makes me want to withdraw.

Blimey, I have written all this and still don't feel like I've painted the picture.

The doctor put me forward for this trial because this was all he knew of to do. I so wish I had done my research first. I will be so much more cautious in the future.

It frightens me to think that this research will be used to support clinics offering this in the future.

Anyway, I hope that is of help to someone. I can provide more information if anyone is interested.

Thanks for your replies and I hope this is a good day for you.

Alice x

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