Significant other behavioural responses and patient chronic fatigue syndrome symptom fluctuations in the context of daily life: An experience sampling study.

Rebecca Band, Christine Barrowclough, Richard Emsley, Matthew Machin, Alison J Wearden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Significant other responses to patients' symptoms are important for patient illness outcomes in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME); negative responses have been associated with increased patient depression, whilst increased disability and fatigue have been associated with solicitous significant other responses. The current study aimed to examine the relationship between significant other responses and patient outcomes within the context of daily life. DESIGN: Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM). METHOD: Twenty-three patients with CFS/ME and their significant others were recruited from specialist CFS/ME services. Sixty momentary assessments, delivered using individual San Francisco Android Smartphones, were conducted over a period of 6 days. All participants reported on affect, dyadic contact, and significant other responses to the patient. Patients reported on symptom severity, disability, and activity management strategies. RESULTS: Negative significant other responses were associated with increased patient symptom severity and distress reported at the same momentary assessment; there was evidence of a potentially mediating role of concurrent distress on symptom severity. Patient-perceived solicitous responses were associated with reduced patient activity and disability reported at the same momentary assessment. Lagged analyses indicate that momentary associations between significant other responses and patient outcomes are largely transitory; significant other responses were not associated with any of the patient outcomes at the subsequent assessment. CONCLUSION: The results indicate that significant other responses are important influences on the day-to-day experience of CFS/ME. Further research examining patient outcomes in association with specific significant other behavioural responses is warranted and future interventions that target such significant other behaviours may be beneficial. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? The existing literature has identified that significant other responses are important with respect to patient outcomes in CFS/ME. In particular, when examined cross-sectionally and longitudinally, negative and solicitous significant other responses are associated with poorer illness outcomes. This study is the first to examine the momentary associations between negative and solicitous responses, as reported by the patient and significant other, and patient-reported outcomes. An ESM paradigm was used to assess these temporal relationships within the context of participants' daily life. What does this study add? Negative responses were associated with increased momentary patient distress and symptoms. Perceived solicitousness was associated with activity limitation but less perceived disability. The impact of significant other responses on patient outcomes was found to be transitory.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2015

Keywords

  • Experience Sampling Methodology
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • responses
  • significant others

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