Psychological factors in social relationships and home functioning of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome

Orr, Barry

Clinical psychology
October 2008

Thesis or dissertation

© 2008 Barry Orr. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Background: Emotional expressivity has received recent research attention in studying behavioural outcomes, in non-clinical samples and clinical samples alike. However, it has not been tested with chronic fatigue syndrome patients, to see if positive expressivity predicts better social relationships. Secondly, dysfunctional attitudes concerning attainment and achievement, and poor everyday routine, have been associated with poorer functioning in different clinical conditions, such as cancer and diabetes. These have not been examined in chronic fatigue syndrome, for whether they predict worse patient functioning in their home duties. This study primarily aims to explore these relationships. The relationship between attainment/achievement attitudes and routine in this patient group was also explored.

Method: This explorative, cross sectional study measured 57 patients' levels of positive expressive behaviour, attainment and achievement attitudes, routine, and levels of social relationship functioning and home functioning via self-report measures. Levels of CFS symptoms and depressive symptoms were also controlled for in each question.

Results: Hierarchical regressions indicated positive expressivity did not significantly predict worse or better relationships with friends. Increased positive expressivity did predict worse relationships with family members. Attainment and achievement attitudes did not predict better home functioning, but better routine did. No relationship was found between attitudes and routine. Depressive symptoms predicted greater variance than CFS symptoms in the regressions.

Conclusions: Depression appears to be of importance in relationship and home functioning difficulties. Positive expressivity also appears to have a special role for CFS patients, reducing quality of family relationships. Increased routine may help patients to manage their home duties better, but attainment and achievement attitudes appear to make little difference. Such attitudes do not appear to influence routine. Implications of findings for present theory and clinical treatment for patients are discussed, with further research following these findings suggested.

Postgraduate Medical Institute, The University of Hull
Lam, Dominic
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