Research finds that combining the Lightning Process with Specialist Medical Care, for CFS/ME, is more effective than Specialist Medical Care alone

‘A study investigating the effectiveness of The Lightning Process® programme to treat children with mild or moderate CFS or ME finds symptoms improve.’ reports the University of Bristol.

The results from a study by University of Bristol has been published in the Journal of Archives of Disease in Childhood: Clinical and cost-effectiveness of the Lightning Process in addition to Specialist Medical care for pediatric Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: randomized controlled trial).  It concludes stating ‘The Lightning Process is effective and is probably cost-effective when provided in addition to specialist medical care for mild/moderately affected adolescents with CFS/ME.’

A RCT stands for Randomised Controlled Trial and is the gold standard in research.  Young people who were interested in taking part were randomly allocated to either the Specialist Medical Care (SMC) arm or the SMC + Lightning Process (LP) arm.  The randomisation was done by the researcher phoning an interactive voice response system where the participant was allocated to one arm or the other.  The subjects and researchers did know which group they were randomised to so it was not a double blind trial.

SMC = the CFS/ME young people’s service offering consultant, physio, psychology and nursing services, using their specialist knowledge working with young people with this condition.  They have their own established protocol and have a high rate of success working with this group.

12-18 year olds with CFS/ME diagnosed by the Bath/Bristol CFS/ME service. 49 were randomised to the SMC arm, 51 to the SMC+LP arm.  Only young people who could attend hospital appointments and travel to LP seminars were included.

What was measured
Physical function, fatigue, days attended at school, anxiety, depression, pain, and 2 ways to measure cost effectiveness – ‘quality of life years’ and ‘general health and cost effectiveness’.

Result highlights
•  Physical function was better in the SMC + LP arm at 6 months and this improved further at 12 months.
•  Fatigue and anxiety were reduced in the SMC + LP arm at 6 months.
•  Fatigue, anxiety, depression and school attendance improved in the SMC + LP arm at 12 months
•  SMC + LP was probably more cost-effective (in the data that worked out missing data values).  We think they have used the word ‘probably’ because the 2 tools they used came up with differing results, however, from the data the researchers have inferred that it was probably more cost effective!

Adverse events
There were no serious adverse events attributable to either arm.

Deterioration in condition
9 participants experienced a deterioration in physical function.  1 of these was in the SMC + LP arm.  The majority had little deterioration, less than 10%, which is less than the Minimal Clinically Important Difference (MCID).

“The Lightning Process is effective and is probably cost-effective when provided in addition to specialist medical care for mild/moderately affected adolescents with CFS/ME.”

The trial only looked at adolescents with CFS/ME that had mild/moderate CFS/ME.  Anyone with severe CFS/ME that was therefore unable to leave their home and/or unable to travel was not included in the trial.  LP was trialled alongside SMC in the SMC + LP arm and therefore comments cannot be made about whether LP on its own is effective.  However, the results show that SMC + LP is more effective in the above mentioned areas than SMC alone.

What is missing
Not all 51 young people allocated to the LP arm actually took the LP course, however, they were included in the statistics.
We don’t know whether the SMC + LP arm achieved the positive results in a shorter timescale than the results achieved in the SMC arm as no time comparisons are made.

Full published report: Here


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