BACKGROUND: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, ME, is a disorder characterized by persistent fatigue that is not related to effort and not substantially relieved by rest. Additional symptoms of ME include joint pain, sore throat, sleep disturbances and orthostatic intolerance.
Although ME is a rare disease, fatigue is a common symptom among the population and a feature of many illnesses. Hence, the evaluation of individual cases is challenging.
Norwegian health authorities struggle in search of standardized treatment and how to organize it, which is reflected in several official reports on the topic.
METHODS: We investigated publicly available data on the consumption of health services (Norsk Pasientregister), social security benefits (NAV) as well as the Norwegian social security appeal court (Trygderetten).
RESULTS: From 2005 to 2010, the number of policlinical consultations due to ME was raised by a factor of three. The spendage social security benefits also was raised, but not in comparission to the general increase. In the social security appeal court is independent in its evaluation of the cases, and eventually more liberal; there has been a sharp increase in their number of cases due to ME.
CONCLUSION: The impact of ME on the Norwegian health - and social security system is increasing. Norwegian health authorities put great effort in the identification of diagnostic criteria and treatment, while the welfare system has to cope with the daily burden of disease.