The WHO Somatisation Project: The Elephant in the Room Part Seven


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The Elephant in the Room Part Seven

The WHO Somatisation Project [CISSD Project]

A call for transparency from Action for ME: Part Seven

[This report may be republished as long as it is republished in its entirety, unchanged and with the author and source acknowledged. Note that embedded links may drop out.]

To recap, briefly:

Over the past ten days or so, I have been attempting to establish the source of £42,750 of a total of £62,750 funding provided to Action for M.E. for the CISSD (Conceptual issues in somatoform and similar disorders) Project and also establish what Action for M.E.’s relationship to this Project has been, since its inception, what the organisation’s objectives have been and how these grants have been spent.

Professor Rachel Jenkins (Principal Collaborator, CISSD Project, Director WHO Collaborating Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, London) advised me on 5 February that the grants had nothing to do with the WHO Collaborating Centre and suggested I contact Dr Richard Sykes, the Project’s Co-ordinator.

Professor Kurt Kroenke’s (International Chair, CISSD Project) response on 6 February was that he had had nothing to do with the finances of the project and that although he had chaired the meetings he really did not know about the grants of which I was speaking.  He suggested I contact Professor Michael Sharpe or Dr Richard Sykes.

Professor Michael Sharpe* (UK Chair, CISSD Project) advised me on 7 February that he had no knowledge of any grants relating to the CISSD and Action for M.E. and that he was sorry that he could not help.  He suggested I contact Dr Richard Sykes.

Dr Sykes has yet to respond to my enquiries.

I have also contacted Dr Robert Jakob (Medical Officer [ICD], Classifications, Terminologies, and Standards, World Health Organisation, Geneva) and the American Psychiatric Association, since Action for M.E. does not always respond to requests for information about its activities and because I have yet to hear from Dr Sykes.

However, I can report, today, a response from Mr Nick Boatwright, Action for ME’s Finance Manager.

Mr Boatwright advises that:

The CISSD project (Conceptual issues in somatoform and similar disorders) was initiated by the former Westcare CEO, Dr Richard Sykes, who had concerns about the classification of CFS or CFS/ME by the World Health Organisation.

When Action for M.E. merged with Westcare in 2002, it was agreed in handover negotiations that Dr Sykes would go ahead with the project.

The work was supported by grants from the Wellcome Trust, administered by the University of Edinburgh and from the Hugh and Ruby Sykes Charitable Trust, administered by Action for M.E.

Action for M.E. received one retrospective payment of £1750 (equivalent £350 per year) in administration fees. The charity did not gain financially in any other way.

The project was undertaken by Richard Sykes between 2003-2007.

The recommendations were published in an article, Revising the classification of somatoform disorders**, by Kroenke, Sharpe and Sykes, in Psychosomatics, July/August 2007, 48:277-285.

No-one on the current staff was involved in the project and that if I had any further enquiries, the best person to help would be Dr Richard Sykes, CISSD Project Co-ordinator. [Mr Boatwright provides contact details for Dr Sykes.]

Mr Boatwright does not confirm whether and when Action for ME intends to respond to individual and public calls for a full account of Action for M.E.’s involvement in the CISSD Project. I shall therefore be contacting Mr Boatwright again to ask whether Action for M.E. intends to publish a full report on the CISSD Project and also will raise any other issues or need for further clarification arising out of Mr Boatwright’s response.

* Professor Michael Sharpe is Honorary Consultant in Psychological Medicine and Director of the Psychological Medicine Research Group, University of Edinburgh.

Professor Sharpe is a Principal Investigator for the MRC’s PACE Trial; co PIs for the PACE Trial: Professor Peter White, St Bart’s Hospital London; Professor Trudie Chalder, King’s College, London.

**See:  Review Articles: Psychosomatics 48:4, July-August 2007, Revising the Classification of Somatoform Disorders: Key Questions and Preliminary Recommendations

Full paper in PDF format:

Full paper in html format:

or open PDF here on ME agenda CISSD review

Related links:

The ONE CLICK AfME Dossier:

Westcare Financial Statement (Document courtesy of The ONE CLICK Group), FINANCIAL STATEMENTS: 1 July 2001 – 30 June 2002:


The URL for The Elephant in the Room Part Seven is:

For previous postings:

The Elephant in the Room Part One:

The Elephant in the Room Part Two:

The Elephant in the Room Part Three:

The Elephant in the Room Part Four:

The Elephant in the Room Part Five:

The Elephant in the Room Part Six:

To be continued


Published: 11.02.09