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1.  Social support needs for equity in health and social care: a thematic analysis of experiences of people with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis 
Background
Needs-based resource allocation is fundamental to equitable care provision, which can meet the often-complex, fluctuating needs of people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). This has posed challenges both for those providing and those seeking support providers, in building shared understanding of the condition and of actions to address it. This qualitative study reports on needs for equity in health and social care expressed by adults living with CFS/ME.
Methods
The participants were 35 adults with CFS/ME in England, purposively selected to provide variation in clinical presentations, social backgrounds and illness experiences. Accounts of experienced needs and needs-related encounters with health and social services were obtained through a focus group (n = 6) and semi-structured interviews (n = 35). These were transcribed and needs related topics identified through data-led thematic analysis.
Findings
Participants emphasised needs for personalised, timely and sustained support to alleviate CFS/ME impacts and regain life control, in three thematic areas: (1) Illness symptoms, functional limitations and illness management; (2) practical support and social care; (3) financial support. Access of people with CFS/ME to support from health and social services was seen to be constrained by barriers stemming from social, cultural, organisational and professional norms and practices, further heightened for disadvantaged groups including some ethnic minorities. These reduced opportunities for their illness to be explained or associated functional limitations and social disadvantages to be addressed through social support. Participants sought more understanding of bio-psycho-social aspects of CFS/ME, of felt needs of people with CFS/ME and of human rights and disability rights, for providing person-centred, equitable care.
Conclusions
Changes in attitudes of health practitioners, policy makers and general public and more flexibly organised health and social care provision are needed to address equity issues in support needs expressed by people with CFS/ME, to be underpinned by research-based knowledge and communication, for public and professional education. Policy development should include shared decision-making and coordinated action across organizations working for people with CFS/ME, human rights and disadvantaged groups. Experiences of people with CFS/ME can usefully inform an understanding of equity in their health and social care.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-10-46
PMCID: PMC3229491  PMID: 22044797
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis; thematic analysis; social support; experiences; recognition; social welfare
2.  Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) in adults: a qualitative study of perspectives from professional practice 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:89.
Background
Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) can cause profound and prolonged illness and disability, and poses significant problems of uncertainty for healthcare professionals in its diagnosis and management. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the nature of professional 'best practice' in working with people with CFS/ME.
Methods
The views and experiences of health care practitioners (HCPs) were sought, who had been judged by people with CFS/ME themselves to have been particularly helpful and effective. Qualitative semi-structured interviews following a topic guide were carried out with six health care practitioners. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and subject to thematic analysis.
Results
Five main themes were developed: 1) Diagnosis; 2) Professional perspectives on living with CFS/ME; 3) Interventions for treatment and management; 4) Professional values and support for people with CFS/ME and their families; 5) Health professional roles and working practices. Key findings related to: the diagnostic process, especially the degree of uncertainty which may be shared by primary care physicians and patients alike; the continued denial in some quarters of the existence of CFS/ME as a condition; the variability, complexity, and serious impact of the condition on life and living; the onus on the person with CFS/ME to manage their condition, supported by HCPs; the wealth of often conflicting and confusing information on the condition and options for treatment; and the vital role of extended listening and trustful relationships with patients.
Conclusions
While professional frustrations were clearly expressed about the variability of services both in primary and specialist care and continuing equivocal attitudes to CFS/ME as a condition, there were also strong positive messages for people with CFS/ME where the right services are in place. Many of the findings from these practitioners seen by their patients as helping them more effectively, accord with the existing literature identifying the particular importance of listening skills, respect and trust for establishing a therapeutic relationship which recognises key features of the patient trajectory and promotes effective person-centred management of this complex condition. These findings indicate the need to build such skills and knowledge more systematically into professional training informed by the experience of specialist services and those living with the condition.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-11-89
PMCID: PMC2994803  PMID: 21078171
3.  Power grip, pinch grip, manual muscle testing or thenar atrophy – which should be assessed as a motor outcome after carpal tunnel decompression? A systematic review 
Background
Objective assessment of motor function is frequently used to evaluate outcome after surgical treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). However a range of outcome measures are used and there appears to be no consensus on which measure of motor function effectively captures change. The purpose of this systematic review was to identify the methods used to assess motor function in randomized controlled trials of surgical interventions for CTS. A secondary aim was to evaluate which instruments reflect clinical change and are psychometrically robust.
Methods
The bibliographic databases Medline, AMED and CINAHL were searched for randomized controlled trials of surgical interventions for CTS. Data on instruments used, methods of assessment and results of tests of motor function was extracted by two independent reviewers.
Results
Twenty-two studies were retrieved which included performance based assessments of motor function. Nineteen studies assessed power grip dynamometry, fourteen studies used both power and pinch grip dynamometry, eight used manual muscle testing and five assessed the presence or absence of thenar atrophy. Several studies used multiple tests of motor function. Two studies included both power and pinch strength and reported descriptive statistics enabling calculation of effect sizes to compare the relative responsiveness of grip and pinch strength within study samples. The study findings suggest that tip pinch is more responsive than lateral pinch or power grip up to 12 weeks following surgery for CTS.
Conclusion
Although used most frequently and known to be reliable, power and key pinch dynamometry are not the most valid or responsive tools for assessing motor outcome up to 12 weeks following surgery for CTS. Tip pinch dynamometry more specifically targets the thenar musculature and appears to be more responsive. Manual muscle testing, which in theory is most specific to the thenar musculature, may be more sensitive if assessed using a hand held dynamometer – the Rotterdam Intrinsic Handheld Myometer. However further research is needed to evaluate its reliability and responsiveness and establish the most efficient and psychometrically robust method of evaluating motor function following surgery for CTS.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-114
PMCID: PMC2213649  PMID: 18028538

Results 1-3 (3)