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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2011 March;52(1):11-19

language: English

Impact of psychological aspects on physiological response to stress in patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome

Blazquez A. 1, Guillamò E. 1, Alegre J. 1, Javierre C. 1

1 Department of Physiological Sciences II, School of Medicine, University of Barcelona, IDIBELL, L’Hospitalet, Barcelona, Spain
2 Department of Internal Medicine, CFS and Fibromyalgia Unit, Vall d’Hebron Hospital, Barcelona, Spain


Aim. This study aimed to evaluate the relationship between psychological aspects and functional capacity in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), determining the importance of these aspects so as to provide specific information for clinical interventions.
Methods. The sample comprised 40 female CFS patients. The State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale (HADS) and the Symptom Checklist-90-R (SCL-90-R) to measure anxiety and depression; and the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) to measure social and relational aspects. Variables related to fatigue, pain and quality of life were assessed using the Fatigue Impact Scale (FIS), the McGill Pain Questionnaire (McGill), the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) and the Short Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36). Patients were also tested on a precalibrated cycle ergometer following a progressive test up to exhaustion.
Results. There were several different relationships between the results on psychological tests and the measures of maximal functional capacity. For example, the social functioning variable was the most frequently associated psychosocial aspect in the present study, mostly with the maximal workload achieved, the peak oxygen consumption, the peak oxygen consumption with respect to body mass, the maximal heart rate achieved and the maximal CO2 production.
Conclusion. The results showed an important inter-relationship between psychological aspects and functional capacity. Quantifying the influence of this interaction would enable more selective interventions to be offered to patients with CFS.

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