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Preliminary analysis of newly released PACE data

September 23, 2016

Working with statistics professors from the University of California and Columbia University, M.E. patient Alem Matthees has published his preliminary analysis of the anonymised PACE trial data released to him by Queen Mary University London under the Freedom of Information Act.

Using the thresholds originally specified in the published trial protocol in 2007, their analysis shows that “cognitive behaviour therapy, graded exercise therapy, and adaptive pacing therapy groups did not demonstrate a statistically significant advantage over the specialist medical care group […] nor an empirical recovery rate that would generally be considered adequate (the highest observed rate was 7.7%).”

Alan Cook, Chair of Board of Trustees, Action for M.E., says, “As a point of principle, Action for M.E. supports the sharing of research data to enable replication and validation. We have supported the release of PACE trial data, and I wrote to QMUL in February to ask it to do so. It is evident that this new preliminary analysis of the data raises a number of questions, and we would welcome publication in a peer-reviewed journal to facilitate the robust scientific debate that is clearly needed.

“Any new evidence that can be replicated and validated concerning the efficacy of symptom-management approaches must be considered in the formulation of treatment guidelines. This includes the guideline published by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, which is due to be considered for review next year.”

Independent charity Sense About Science explains the importance of peer-review as follows:

"When research findings have been peer reviewed and published in a scientific journal, this indicates that they are sufficiently valid, significant and original to merit the attention of other scientists. Peer review is an essential dividing line for judging what is scientific and what is speculation and opinion. Most scientists make a careful distinction between their peer-reviewed findings and their more general opinions."