Dutch researches exposed for what they are
‘Science is not an opinion’ says Professor Elise van de Putte in the NRC of 26 March and ‘research must meet strict criteria’. Research must meet strict criteria indeed. We should be able to rely on that. But unfortunately, that trust is damaged in these studies that have to prove that the special form of cognitive behavioral therapy would lead to improvement or even recovery for patients with … For which patients exactly?
That is a first point where these investigations fall short. In three of the five Dutch studies we analyzed (Twisk, Corsius, 2017) (1) (2), diagnoses have been mixed. This involves chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS. The third diagnosis of ME was not specifically examined. Subsequently, statements are made about the effect of this therapy on ME and CFS. That is a serious scientific shortcoming.
It is from scientific point of view a mortal sin that the definition of recovery is only determined after completion of the trial. However, this did happen during the FITNET study by Mrs Van de Putte (Ghatineh, Vink, 2017)(3).
The outcome measures, questionnaires, which the researchers use to determine whether patients improve or recover lead to a distorted impression. The researchers use outcome values that do not even come near to the outcomes of healthy people.
In one study, they declare patients have been recovered, while in other studies they say, base don the same values, patients are sick enough to enter the study.
The way in which the research has been carried out, not blinded, leads to a distorted picture from the very start. A known bias is that the patient wants to please the therapist which is reflected in his answers. Statistical errors have also been made.
Measures that give an objective picture of the patient’s situation have not been done, or they have been withheld or they have not been published until years later. These objective outcomes very clearly showed the treatment did not work.
In recent days, Van de Putte, Van der Meer, Bleijenberg and Knoop have been publishing and have been amply cited in Dutch national newspapers. A desperate offensive has been started. Their scientific status and the survival of their therapy is at stake.
In their urge to declare that the Health Council’s advice is flawed, they create the impression the other seven professional committee members were overpowered by the two committee members who brought in the patient’s perspective. How credible is that?
The fatigue scientists exhaust themselves in platitudes claiming their therapy really helps. However, that has not been substantiated by their scientific research.
In the meantime, friends Renckens and Keuter join in loudly, in a shrieking tone and without any underpinning for their claim ME is not a real disease but a figment of the patients mind.
But then again, having friends like these two, one does not need an enemy.