Working Paper Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Medical School Education on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Version 1 : Received: 11 March 2021 / Approved: 16 March 2021 / Online: 16 March 2021 (12:16:27 CET)

How to cite: Muirhead, N.; Muirhead, J.; Lavery, G.; Marsh, B. Medical School Education on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Preprints 2021, 2021030420 Muirhead, N.; Muirhead, J.; Lavery, G.; Marsh, B. Medical School Education on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Preprints 2021, 2021030420


Background and objectives: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ME/CFS is a common complex multi-system disease with a significant impact on the quality of life of patients and their families, yet the majority of ME/CFS patients go unrecognised or undiagnosed. For two decades the medical education establishment in the UK has been challenged to remedy these failings, but little has changed. This study was designed to ascertain the current UK medical school education on ME/CFS and to identify challenges and opportunities to inform the future of medical education. Materials and methods: A questionnaire, developed under the guidance of the Medical Schools Council, was sent to all 34 UK Medical Schools to collect data for the academic year 2018-2019. Results: Responses were provided by 22 out of a total of 34 medical schools (65%). 59% of respondents taught ME/CFS, led by specialists drawn from 6 medical disciplines. Teaching delivery was usually by lecture; however, discussion case studies and e-learning were used. 7 schools included questions on ME/CFS in their examinations and 3 schools reported likely clinical exposure to ME/CFS patients. 64% of respondents were interested in receiving further teaching aids in ME/CFS. None of the schools shared details of their teaching syllabus so it was not possible to ascertain what students were being taught. Conclusions: UK medical school teaching in ME/CFS is shown to be inadequate. Several medical disciplines, with known differences about the disease, need to set these aside to give greater clarity in teaching undergraduates so they can more easily recognise and diagnose ME/CFS. Improvements are proposed in ME/CFS medical education consistent with the international paradigm shift in biomedical understanding of this disease. Many medical schools (64% of respondents) acknowledge this need by expressing a strong appetite for the development of further teaching aids and materials. The GMC and MSC are called upon to use their considerable influence to bring about the appropriate changes to medical school curricula so future doctors can recognise, diagnose and treat ME/CFS. The GMC should also consider creating a registered speciality encompassing ME/CFS, post viral fatigue and Long Covid.


ME/CFS; education; medical school; teaching; long Covid; patient safety, NICE Guidelines, Health Act 1983, General Medical Council, GMC, Medical Schools Council, MSC, Long Covid.


Medicine and Pharmacology, Immunology and Allergy

Comments (0)

We encourage comments and feedback from a broad range of readers. See criteria for comments and our Diversity statement.

Leave a public comment
Send a private comment to the author(s)
* All users must log in before leaving a comment
Views 0
Downloads 0
Comments 0
Metrics 0

Notify me about updates to this article or when a peer-reviewed version is published.
We use cookies on our website to ensure you get the best experience.
Read more about our cookies here.