BACKGROUND: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is a chronic condition whose status within medicine is the subject of on-going debate. Some medical professionals regard it as a contentious illness. Others report a lack of confidence with diagnosis and management of the condition. The genesis of this paper was a complaint, made by an ME patient, about their treatment by a general practitioner. In response to the complaint, Healthwatch Trafford ran a patient experience-gathering project.
METHOD: Data was collected from 476 participants (411 women and 65 men), living with ME from across the UK. Multinomial logistic regression investigated the predictive utility of length of time with ME; geographic location (i.e. Manchester vs. rest of UK); trust in GP; whether the patient had received a formal diagnosis; time taken to diagnosis; and gender. The outcome variable was number of GP visits per year.
RESULTS: All variables, with the exception of whether the patient had received a formal diagnosis, were significant predictors.
CONCLUSIONS: Relationships between ME patients and their GPs are discussed and argued to be key to the effective delivery of care to this patient cohort. Identifying potential barriers to doctor patient interactions in the context of ME is crucial.