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Investigation of Symptom Perception and Severity in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Arroll, Megan Anne (2009) Investigation of Symptom Perception and Severity in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey.


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Background: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterised by numerous symptoms including prolonged fatigue, cognitive difficulties and autonomic disturbances yet the cause of the condition remains unknown. This thesis aimed to investigate the symptom experience and perception of those with CFS in an effort to discover whether particular psychological and cognitive variables impacted on symptomatology. Methods: Three discrete studies using qualitative (semi-structured interviews and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis) and quantitative (a longitudinal survey with a 6-month follow-up and an experimental study utilising a computer-based emotional Stroop task) methodologies were the basis of the five empirical chapters in this thesis. Results: Qualitative findings illustrated the diverse symptomatology of individuals with CFS and key features of the illness course, for instance difficulty in gaining a diagnosis. Next, data reduction techniques were used with the time-one survey data and generated three distinct sub-groups based upon symptom severity which were independent of demographic factors (low, medium and high symptomatology). The low symptom group was associated with negative affect and sex, the medium group's symptom reports were predicted by perceiVed control and the time taken to reach a diagnosis, whereas in the high group, age, depression, positive affect, perceiVed control and the cognitive response to symptoms variable 'damage' all influenced symptomatology. At 6-month follow-up, change in negative affect predicted change in symptomatology in the low group, no variables were influential in symptom change in the medium group and 'damage' and the illness perception 'consequences' predicted symptomatological change in the high group. Finally, objective attentional bias did not differ between low and high symptomatology CFS participants and controls in the emotional Stroop task.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Psychology, University of Surrey.

Copyright remains with the author.

Divisions: Theses
Depositing User: Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2011 10:26
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2013 18:40

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