Trial By Error: My FOI Letter about Oxford’s Post-COVID-19 Fatigue Pamphlet

If you appreciate this piece and/or my work in general, here’s a link to my current UC Berkeley crowdfunding effort: https://crowdfund.berkeley.edu/project/20159

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By David Tuller, DrPH

As I reported yesterday (oops!–it was Thursday, not yesterday–this is a correction made a few minutes after posting!), the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which oversees NHS services in the area, recently published a pamphlet on coronavirus and fatigue that reads as if the last 25 years hadn’t happened. To try to understand what happened, I have just sent the agency the following freedom-of-information request.

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Dear FOI office:

I am a public health researcher and journalist at the University of California, Berkeley. I am seeking information related to the pamphlet on coronavirus and fatigue recently published by the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which is posted at this URL:

https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/OH-011.20-Coronavirus-and-fatigue-v2.pdf

These are my questions:

  1. What is the “psychosocial response group,” which is credited on the cover of the pamphlet? I have searched for the term on the site and nothing comes up. How many people are members of this group, and what are their professional qualifications and/or medical specialties? When was this group established, and what is its official mandate? What else has it done?
  2. Can you provide a list of the peer-reviewed studies and related scientific documentation used to generate the material in the pamphlet specifically about chronic fatigue syndrome, including risk factors for the illness, diagnostic criteria, management strategies and treatment?

Thank you. I look forward to hearing back.

Best–David Tuller, DrPH

David Tuller, DrPH
Senior Fellow in Public Health and Journalism
Center for Global Public Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Patricia 18 April 2020, 4:19 pm

    Thank You David ✨

  • Wendy Boutilier 18 April 2020, 5:28 pm

    ‘Psychosocial Response Group’
    Where do they come up with these titles, because it basically sounds like the same therapy that Jim Jones & his Kool Aid gang practiced.

  • Bob Landers 18 April 2020, 8:54 pm
  • EzzieD 19 April 2020, 7:22 am

    The pamphlet is shockingly irresponsible – not only potentially harmful advice for ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ in general, but for coronavirus, a serious, potentially fatal disease that even top scientists know little about so far, therefore nobody knows how much lung and/or vital organ damage might remain afterwards and for how long. Giving glib advice on exercising and CBT as the path to recovery from a serious new disease that is a mostly unknown quantity, is stunningly premature and inappropriate. It would be interesting to know who wrote this, why something called a ‘psychosocial response group’ is giving bizarre recovery advice for a novel physical illness, and what evidence-based research they based their claims on (pretty sure there isn’t any).

    (Also bewildered at the glaring self-contradictions in the pamphlet: “Resting too much, for example spending most of the day in bed or doing very little, will lead to loss of fitness and muscle strength. When you try to resume normal activities you may find you cannot do as much as you expect to do. You then rest more, causing further loss of fitness in a vicious cycle.” Yet in the same paragraph: “Not allowing yourself time to recuperate and get better, such as going back to work too soon or resuming normal activities before you are fully well. People who have very high standards, like to do things well and do not like to let other people down can push themselves very hard and do not allow themselves time to rest.” Eh?)

  • Ellen Goudsmit 19 April 2020, 7:33 am

    Brilliant!

  • Grace 19 April 2020, 12:30 pm

    Thank you for doing this.

  • Richard Smallfield 19 April 2020, 1:10 pm

    Thank you David.

    Our community’s indebtedness to you knows no bounds – even though those who need to be heeding your your logic are so often deaf to it, (Or, fully aware of their moral bakruptcy, are too self-interested to back down.)

    They make a mockery of the hippocratic oath.

  • Bazia Z 19 April 2020, 1:18 pm

    Thanks as usual for your important, quick and succinct response to such misinformation.

  • Grace Wilkie 20 April 2020, 9:36 am

    I wonder if you’ve spooked them, the link doesn’t lead anywhere now, have they removed it??

  • EzzieD 21 April 2020, 4:37 am

    @ Grace Wilkie, the link still works, I just tried it, the pamphlet is still there. Maybe they removed it for a while and then put it back? Ugh.

  • EzzieD 21 April 2020, 4:44 am

    PS Er, just tried again and now it IS gone, a 404 page. Hope it stays that way.

  • Su 26 April 2020, 2:55 pm

    This is ‘my’ NHS Trust.

    Good grief.

    It’s so infuriating that resource has been put into this, to what effect? My life is getting smaller and smaller.

    David, thank you. Please don’t stop.