Treatment: Choosing a Health Care Provider
Finding a primary care provider who is knowledgeable about chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) can be a challenge for many persons with CFS (PWCs).
Many support groups are aware of regional health care providers who diagnose and treat CFS. These groups may be able to assist with locating a CFS-knowledgeable physician or other primary care provider, such as a physician assistant or nurse practitioner.
Fewer than 20% of people who meet the case definition criteria for CFS have been diagnosed and treated by a health care provider. These low rates of diagnosis and treatment support a need for increased awareness about the syndrome by health care providers as well as people experiencing the symptoms. To help meet this need, in 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the CFIDS Association of America, implemented a provider education program. This program offers self-study courses and other resources designed to inform health care professionals about CFS.
An open, honest talk with your health care provider may present opportunities for you to provide CFS research studies or self-study course materials to help increase their understanding and acceptance of the illness. Sharing your knowledge in this manner can be a "win-win" situation for everyone involved.
If, after a frank talk with your provider, you find that treatment is still not satisfactory, you may wish to look for a new provider. If you have medical insurance coverage, contact your benefits administration to obtain names of providers who are covered by your plan; or, contact a local or national medical association - they may furnish referral information on physicians. Here are a few resources that you may want to try:
The American Medical Association,
The American Board of Medical Specialties or the
American Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.