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1.  Reviewer acknowledgement 2013 
Contributing reviewers
The editors of BioPsychoSocial Medicine would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 7 (2013).
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-8-2
PMCID: PMC3932729  PMID: 24565380
2.  Rational/antiemotional behaviors in interpersonal relationships and the functional prognosis of patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a Japanese multicenter, longitudinal study 
Background
The repression of negative emotions is a personality factor that received considerable attention in the 1950-60s as being relevant to the onset and course of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Despite subsequent, repeated criticisms of the cross-sectional nature of the earlier studies, even to date few prospective studies have been reported on this issue. This multicenter study prospectively examined if “rational and antiemotional” behavior (antiemotionality), characterized by an extreme tendency to suppress emotional behaviors and to rationalize negative experiences in conflicting interpersonal situations, is associated with the functional prognosis of patients with RA.
Methods
532 patients with RA who regularly visited one of eight hospitals/clinics in Japan in 2000 were recruited for study. All completed a self-administered baseline questionnaire about lifestyle and psychosocial factors including antiemotionality. Two years after, 460 (mean age, 56.1 years; 54 men and 406 women) of 471 patients who continued to visit the clinics agreed to take the follow-up questionnaire. The functional status of the patients was evaluated by rheumatologists based on the ACR classification system.
Results
A multiple logistic regression model that included baseline demographic, disease activity/severity-related, therapeutic, and socioeconomic factors as covariates found a tendency toward higher antiemotionality to be related to poorer functional status at follow-up. This relationship was not explained by lifestyle factors.
Conclusions
Antiemotionality may be a prognostic factor for the functional status of patients with RA. This finding sheds light on a seemingly forgotten issue in the care of patients with RA.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-8-8
PMCID: PMC3941968  PMID: 24565416
Rheumatoid arthritis; Psychological stress; Personality; Emotions; Function; Prospective studies
3.  Effect of 12 weeks of yoga training on the somatization, psychological symptoms, and stress-related biomarkers of healthy women 
Background
Previous studies have shown that the practice of yoga reduces perceived stress and negative feelings and that it improves psychological symptoms. Our previous study also suggested that long-term yoga training improves stress-related psychological symptoms such as anxiety and anger. However, little is known about the beneficial effects of yoga practice on somatization, the most common stress-related physical symptoms, and stress-related biomarkers. We performed a prospective, single arm study to examine the beneficial effects of 12 weeks of yoga training on somatization, psychological symptoms, and stress-related biomarkers.
Methods
We recruited healthy women who had no experience with yoga. The data of 24 participants who were followed during 12 weeks of yoga training were analyzed. Somatization and psychological symptoms were assessed before and after 12 weeks of yoga training using the Profile of Mood State (POMS) and the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90-R) questionnaires. Urinary 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), biopyrrin, and cortisol levels were measured as stress-related biomarkers. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to compare the stress-related biomarkers and the scores of questionnaires before and after 12 weeks of yoga training.
Results
After 12 weeks of yoga training, all negative subscale scores (tension-anxiety, depression, anger-hostility, fatigue, and confusion) from the POMS and somatization, anxiety, depression, and hostility from the SCL-90-R were significantly decreased compared with those before starting yoga training. Contrary to our expectation, the urinary 8-OHdG concentration after 12 weeks of yoga training showed a significant increase compared with that before starting yoga training. No significant changes were observed in the levels of urinary biopyrrin and cortisol after the 12 weeks of yoga training.
Conclusions
Yoga training has the potential to reduce the somatization score and the scores related to mental health indicators, such as anxiety, depression, anger, and fatigue. The present findings suggest that yoga can improve somatization and mental health status and has implications for the prevention of psychosomatic symptoms in healthy women.
Trial registration
University Hospital Medical Information Network (UMIN CTR) UMIN000007868.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-8-1
PMCID: PMC3892034  PMID: 24383884
Yoga; Somatization; Psychological symptom; Stress; Biomarker; Anxiety; Depression; Anger; Hostility; Fatigue
4.  Spiritual and religious beliefs: do they matter in the medication adherence behaviour of hypertensive patients? 
Background
Medication non-adherence is often a predominant problem in the management of hypertension and other chronic conditions. In explaining health behaviours, social determinants like spirituality and religiosity are increasingly identified to impact health and treatment. Although a number of researchers have found spirituality and religiosity to be primary resources among persons dealing with chronic disability and illness, studies relating this specifically to medication adherence have been limited.
Methods
Our study sought to examine the interrelationship between spirituality/ religiosity and medication adherence among 400 hypertensive patients 18 years old and above. Spiritual Perspective Scale, Duke Religion Index, and the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale were used to determine spirituality, religiosity and medication adherence respectively.
Results
The majority (93.25%) of patients poorly adhered to their medications. While high spiritual and religious beliefs formed core components of the lifestyles of patients, spirituality (p = 0.018) and not religiosity (p = 0.474) related directly with medication non-adherence. Likewise, after controlling for demography and other medical co-morbidities, patients with high spirituality were 2.68 times more likely to be poorly adherent than patients who place lower emphasis on the association between spirituality and health.
Conclusion
Our study suggests that while spirituality/ religiosity was dominant among hypertensive patients, these spiritual attachments of patients with a supreme being potentially increased their trust in the expectation of divine healing instead of adhering adequately with their anti-hypertensive medications.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-7-15
PMCID: PMC3854617  PMID: 24138844
Spirituality; Religiosity; Medication non-adherence; Co-morbidity; Ghana
5.  TEACCH-based group social skills training for children with high-functioning autism: a pilot randomized controlled trial 
Background
Although social skills training programs for people with high-functioning autism (HFA) are widely practiced, the standardization of curricula, the examination of clinical effectiveness, and the evaluation of the feasibility of future trials have yet to be done in Asian countries. To compensate for this problem, a Japanese pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH)-based group social skills training for children with HFA and their mothers was conducted.
Methods
Eleven children with HFA, aged 5–6 years, and their mothers were randomly assigned to the TEACCH program (n=5) or a waiting-list control group (n=6). The program involved comprehensive group intervention and featured weekly 2-hour sessions, totaling 20 sessions over six months. The adaptive behaviors and social reciprocity of the children, parenting stress, and parent–child interactions were assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), Parenting Stress Index (PSI), Beck depression inventory-II (BDI-II), and Interaction Rating Scale (IRS).
Results
Through this pilot trial, the intervention and evaluation of the program has been shaped. There were no dropouts from the program and the mothers’ satisfaction was high. The outcome measurements improved more in the program group than in the control group, with moderate effect sizes (SDQ, 0.71; PSI, 0.58; BDI-II, 0.40; and IRS, 0.69). This pilot trial also implied that this program is more beneficial for high IQ children and mothers with low stress than for those who are not.
Conclusion
We have standardized the TEACCH program, confirmed the feasibility of a future trial, and successfully estimated the positive effect size. These findings will contribute to a larger trial in the future and to forthcoming systematic reviews with meta-analyses.
Trial registration
UMIN000004560
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-7-14
PMCID: PMC3850504  PMID: 24083413
Randomized controlled trial; Autism; Social skills training; TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children)
6.  Family issues and family functioning of Japanese outpatients with type 2 diabetes: a cross-sectional study 
Background
Previous studies confirmed that the control of diabetes is related to family functioning, but the validity of the tools used to assess family functioning in these studies is questionable. Few studies have focused on family issues. In this study, we used a new assessment tool to evaluate family functioning and family issues of patients with type 2 diabetes.
Methods
A cross-sectional questionnaire was given to outpatients with type 2 diabetes at a community hospital in Aichi, Japan, between August 2001 and March 2002. First, the patients were asked to answer FACESKGIV-16, which measures cohesion and adaptability, questions regarding family issues, daily lifestyle, and HAD. Physical and serological data were measured. Family functioning, family issues, and relationships between each parameter and family functioning or family issues were analyzed.
Results
Of the 133 participants, 121 (33.3%) had some sort of family issue. Family issues included “Health problems of family members” (40.9%), “Family life cycle issues” (22.7%), and others.
The best fit multiple regression model (Adjusted R2: 0.494, p = 0.020) included Plasma Glucose as an independent variable, and the squared value of cohesion score, depression score of HAD, Total calorie intake, Exercise time, Housekeeping time, and BMI were dependent variables. The results show that extremes of family cohesion with either too many or too few issues related to family functioning are correlated with the plasma glucose level.
Conclusions
Family issues were common among patients with type 2 diabetes, and the extremes of family cohesion were associated with the glucose level, in contrast to the common wisdom that a well balanced family leads to good control of diabetes.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-7-13
PMCID: PMC3700776  PMID: 23799927
Family; Family Research; Diabetes Mellitus; Family Relations; Family Characteristics; Family Members
7.  Does lavender aromatherapy alleviate premenstrual emotional symptoms?: a randomized crossover trial 
Background
A majority of reproductive-age women experience a constellation of various symptoms in the premenstrual phase, commonly known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Despite its prevalence, however, no single treatment is universally recognized as effective, and many women turn to alternative approaches, including aromatherapy, a holistic mind and body treatment. The present study investigated the soothing effects of aromatherapy on premenstrual symptoms using lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), a relaxing essential oil, from the perspective of autonomic nervous system function.
Methods
Seventeen women (20.6 ± 0.2 years) with mild to moderate subjective premenstrual symptoms participated in a randomized crossover study. Subjects were examined on two separate occasions (aroma and control trials) in the late-luteal phases. Two kinds of aromatic stimulation (lavender and water as a control) were used. This experiment measured heart rate variability (HRV) reflecting autonomic nerve activity and the Profile of Mood States (POMS) as a psychological index before and after the aromatic stimulation.
Results
Only a 10-min inhalation of the lavender scent significantly increased the high frequency (HF) power reflecting parasympathetic nervous system activity in comparison with water (aroma effect: F = 4.50, p = 0.050; time effect: F = 5.59, p = 0.017; aroma x time effect: F = 3.17, p = 0.047). The rate of increase in HF power was greater at 10–15 min (p = 0.051) and 20–25 min (p = 0.023) in the lavender trial than in the control trial with water. In addition, POMS tests revealed that inhalation of the aromatic lavender oil significantly decreased two POMS subscales—depression–dejection (p = 0.045) and confusion (p = 0.049)—common premenstrual symptoms, in the late-luteal phase, as long as 35 min after the aroma stimulation.
Conclusions
The present study indicated that lavender aromatherapy as a potential therapeutic modality could alleviate premenstrual emotional symptoms, which, at least in part, is attributable to the improvement of parasympathetic nervous system activity. This study further implies that HRV could evaluate the efficacy of aromatherapy using various fragrances to relieve premenstrual symptoms, and ultimately, support the mind and body health of women.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-7-12
PMCID: PMC3674979  PMID: 23724853
8.  Changes in P300 following alternate nostril yoga breathing and breath awareness 
This study assessed the effect of alternate nostril yoga breathing (nadisuddhi pranayama) on P300 auditory evoked potentials compared to a session of breath awareness of equal duration, in 20 male adult volunteers who had an experience of yoga breathing practices for more than three months. Peak amplitudes and peak latencies of the P300 were assessed before and after the respective sessions. There was a significant increase in the P300 peak amplitudes at Fz, Cz, and Pz and a significant decrease in the peak latency at Fz alone following alternate nostril yoga breathing. Following breath awareness there was a significant increase in the peak amplitude of P300 at Cz. This suggests that alternate nostril yoga breathing positively influences cognitive processes which are required for sustained attention at different scalp sites (frontal, vertex and parietal), whereas breath awareness brings about changes at the vertex alone.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-7-11
PMCID: PMC3679963  PMID: 23721252
Alternate nostril yoga breathing; P300; Breath awareness; Cognitive processes
9.  Psychosocial and cognitive function in children with nephrotic syndrome: association with disease and treatment variables 
Background
To investigate possible differences in emotional/behavioral problems and cognitive function in children with nephrotic syndrome compared to healthy controls and to examine the effect of disease-specific and steroid treatment-specific characteristics on the abovementioned variables.
Methods
Forty-one patients with nephrotic syndrome (23 boys, age range: 4.4-15.2 years) and 42 sex- and age-matched healthy control subjects (20 boys, age range: 4.1-13.4 years) were enrolled in the study. Disease (severity, age of diagnosis, duration) and steroid treatment (total duration, present methylprednisolone dose and duration of present dose) data were collected. In order to assess children’s emotional/behavioral problems, the Child Behavior Checklist was administered. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Third Edition was administered to assess Full-Scale, Verbal, and Performance intelligence quotient (IQ) scores.
Results
The patients presented with more internalizing problems (P = 0.015), including withdrawal (P = 0.012) and somatic complaints (P = 0 .011), but not more anxiety/depression or externalizing problems. A significant association was found between severity of disease and somatic complaints (P = 0.017) as well as externalizing problems (P = 0.030). Years of illness were significantly more in those presenting with abnormal anxiety/depression (P = 0.011). Duration of steroid medication was significantly higher among those presenting with abnormal anxiety/depression (P = 0.011) and externalizing problems (P = 0.039). IQ was not associated significantly with disease or steroid treatment variables.
Conclusions
Psychosocial factors and outcomes may be important correlates of children’s nephrotic syndrome and potential targets of thorough assessment and treatment.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-7-10
PMCID: PMC3652787  PMID: 23618427
Children; Cognitive; Nephrotic syndrome; Psychosocial; Steroids
10.  Reviewer acknowledgement 2012 
The editors of BioPsychoSocial Medicine would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 6 (2012).
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-7-3
PMCID: PMC3579750  PMID: 23369529
11.  A randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled crossover trial on the effects of L-ornithine on salivary cortisol and feelings of fatigue of flushers the morning after alcohol consumption 
Background
Residual alcohol effects on physiological and psychological symptoms are commonly experienced the morning after alcohol consumption. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of L-ornithine on subjective feelings and salivary stress markers the morning after alcohol consumption and to investigate whether L-ornithine acutely accelerates ethanol metabolism.
Methods
This study had a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-masked crossover design. Subjects were all healthy Japanese adults with the ‘flusher’ phenotype for alcohol tolerance. In experiment 1, 11 subjects drank 0.4 g/kg body weight alcohol 1.5 h before their usual bedtime. Half an hour after drinking, they ingested either a placebo or 400 mg ornithine. The next morning on awakening, subjects completed a questionnaire containing a visual analog scale (VAS), the Oguri-Shirakawa-Azumi sleep inventory MA version (OSA-MA), and a profile of mood states (POMS) and collected a saliva sample for measurement of salivary stress markers (cortisol, secretory immunoglobulin A, and α-amylase). In experiment 2, placebo or 400 mg ornithine were administrated to 16 subjects both before and after drinking, and the feeling of drunkenness, breath ethanol concentration and one-leg standing time were repeatedly investigated until 180 min after alcohol consumption.
Results
There were significant decreases in “awareness”, “feeling of fatigue” and “lassitude” VAS scores and in “anger-hostility” and “confusion” POMS scores and a significant increase in “sleep length” in the OSA-MA test. Salivary cortisol concentrations on awakening were reduced after ornithine supplementation. There were no differences between ornithine and placebo in any of the subjective or physiological parameters of acute alcohol metabolism.
Conclusions
Taking 400 mg ornithine after alcohol consumption improved various negative feelings and decreased the salivary stress marker cortisol the next morning. These effects were not caused by an increase in acute alcohol metabolism.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-7-6
PMCID: PMC3583691  PMID: 23414576
Ornithine; Residual alcohol effects; Salivary cortisol; Flusher
12.  Relationship between autonomic cardiovascular control, case definition, clinical symptoms, and functional disability in adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome: an exploratory study 
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is characterized by severe impairment and multiple symptoms. Autonomic dysregulation has been demonstrated in several studies. We aimed at exploring the relationship between indices of autonomic cardiovascular control, the case definition from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC criteria), important clinical symptoms, and disability in adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome. 38 CFS patients aged 12–18 years were recruited according to a wide case definition (ie. not requiring accompanying symptoms) and subjected to head-up tilt test (HUT) and a questionnaire. The relationships between variables were explored with multiple linear regression analyses. In the final models, disability was positively associated with symptoms of cognitive impairments (p<0.001), hypersensitivity (p<0.001), fatigue (p=0.003) and age (p=0.007). Symptoms of cognitive impairments were associated with age (p=0.002), heart rate (HR) at baseline (p=0.01), and HR response during HUT (p=0.02). Hypersensitivity was associated with HR response during HUT (p=0.001), high-frequency variability of heart rate (HF-RRI) at baseline (p=0.05), and adherence to the CDC criteria (p=0.005). Fatigue was associated with gender (p=0.007) and adherence to the CDC criteria (p=0.04). In conclusion, a) The disability of CFS patients is not only related to fatigue but to other symptoms as well; b) Altered cardiovascular autonomic control is associated with certain symptoms; c) The CDC criteria are poorly associated with disability, symptoms, and indices of altered autonomic nervous activity.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-7-5
PMCID: PMC3570350  PMID: 23388153
Adolescents; Chronic fatigue syndrome; Autonomic cardiovascular control; Diagnostic criteria
13.  Younger and older chronic somatoform pain patients in psycho-diagnostics, physician-patient relationship and treatment outcome 
Introduction
Patients with chronic pain are found with highly variable clinical presentation and differing physical complaints. They are seen as a heterogenic group. Based on clinical observations, elderly patients seem to differ from younger patients with chronic pain. We examined whether there were systematic differences between young and old pain patients.
Methods
As part of a routine evaluation of university hospital care, a newly developed psychosomatic treatment model for chronic somatoform pain disorders was examined. The basis for treatment efficacy was a target-oriented, specific somatic and psychological intervention that included a stable physician-patient relationship. Particular attention was paid to differences in treatment outcome with regard to changes in both physical and psychopathological symptom levels. We hypothesised that younger pain patients had higher psychological burden and benefitted more from our treatment than older pain patients.
Results
Overall, 179 inpatients (57.5% women) with chronic pain were examined (age between 16 and 79 years). The group as a whole yielded high scores on the somatisation dimension (SCL-90) and showed a considerable amount of psychopathological symptoms, such as depressive mood and anxiety (HADS) and a great emotional instability (FPI-R). Age differences were only found with regards to patients’ degree of aggression (SCl-90): younger patients showed higher aggressive tendencies than older ones (p< 0.05). The treatment offered helped patients in both age groups especially with regard to reduction of depressive mood (HADS, p< 0.01) and anxiety levels (HADS, p< 0.01). Regression analysis showed different age groups and gender as significant predictors of anxiety reduction under therapy (R2=.108; model: p< 0.01).
Discussion and conclusion
Results show that younger chronic pain patients suffer more from a considerable amount of psychological distress than older ones, but our treatment approach was equally effective in both groups. However, age and gender differences, as well as the patient’s baseline level of anxiety influenced the outcome. These factors need to be studied in future research.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-7-4
PMCID: PMC3573985  PMID: 23379640
Chronic somatoform pain; Age; Psychosomatic in-patient treatment; Attachment style
14.  Effects of personality traits on the manifestations of irritable bowel syndrome 
Objective
Previous studies have reported that patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) show high neuroticism. However, the precise association between the IBS subtypes and the degree of neuroticism in younger populations is largely unknown. We tested our hypothesis that subjects with diarrhea-predominant IBS may have a higher degree of neuroticism than subjects without IBS or those with other subtypes of IBS. We also verified the additional hypothesis that the severity of neuroticism might be correlated with the severity of IBS in younger populations.
Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 557 university students, ranging in age from 18 to 21 years. Presence/ absence of IBS and determination of the IBS subtype was by the Rome II Modular Questionnaire, while the severity of IBS was determined by the IBS severity index (IBS-SI). The degree of neuroticism was evaluated using the Maudsely Personality Inventory (MPI). The presence/absence of psychological distress was measured with the K6 scale.
Results
Neuroticism scores in the subjects with diarrhea-predominant IBS were significantly higher than those in the non-IBS subjects or subjects with constipation-predominant IBS. The neuroticism scores were significantly correlated with the IBS-SI scores in all subjects with IBS.
Conclusion
These results suggest that neuroticism is involved in the pathophysiology of IBS in young subjects, especially in that of the diarrhea-predominant subtype.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-20
PMCID: PMC3523040  PMID: 23110762
Personality; Irritable bowel syndrome; Depression; Neuroticism; Brain- gut interactions
15.  Illness perception among patients with chest pain and palpitations before and after negative cardiac evaluation 
Background
Patients with chest pain or palpitations often have poor outcomes following a negative cardiac evaluation, with symptom persistence, limitations in everyday activities, and reduced health-related quality of life. The aims of this study were to evaluate illness perceptions before and after negative cardiac evaluations and measure the ability of a self-report questionnaire to predict outcomes.
Methods
Patients (N = 138) referred for chest pain or palpitations to a cardiac outpatient clinic were assessed before and six months after a negative cardiac evaluation. In addition to Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (BIPQ), all patients completed the Beck Depression Inventory and SF-36 Health Survey.
Results
The emotional reactions to and understanding of symptoms had not improved six months after a negative cardiac evaluation. A stronger correlation between illness perceptions and health at follow-up than before the cardiac evaluation might explain the tendency for poor outcomes among these patients. Most of the eight BIPQ item scores before the negative cardiac evaluation were predictive of the outcome six months later. A single question asking about the perceived consequences of the complaints (BIPQ Item 1) rated before the cardiac evaluation was collapsed into a dichotomous variable with a cut-off at ≥4 which yields a sensitivity of 51%, a specificity of 85%, a positive predictive value of 71%, a negative predictive value of 69%, and an odds ratio of 5.7 (r = .38, p < .001) in predicting poor outcomes.
Conclusions
Assessing illness perceptions is important in patients with negative cardiac tests for understanding and predicting outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-19
PMCID: PMC3538579  PMID: 23017128
Non-cardiac chest pain; Benign palpitations; Negative cardiac evaluation; Psychosomatic medicine; Illness perception
16.  Diurnal variation of tension-type headache intensity and exacerbation: An investigation using computerized ecological momentary assessment 
Backgrounds
Tension-type headache is a common psychosomatic disease. However, diurnal variation of headache is yet to be clarified, perhaps due to the lack of an appropriate method to investigate it. Like other painful diseases, it would be helpful to know if there is diurnal variation in tension-type headaches, both for managing headaches and understanding their pathophysiology. The aim of this study was to determine if there is diurnal variation in the intensity and exacerbation of tension-type headache.
Methods
Patients (N = 31) with tension-type headache recorded for one week their momentary headache intensity several times a day and their acute headache exacerbations using a watch-type computer as an electronic diary (computerized ecological momentary assessment). Multilevel modeling was used to test the effects of time of day on momentary headache intensity and on the occurrence of acute exacerbations.
Results
A significant diurnal variation in momentary headache intensity was shown (P = 0.0005), with the weakest headaches in the morning and a peak in the late afternoon. A between-individual difference in the diurnal pattern was suggested. On-demand medication use was associated with a different diurnal pattern (P = 0.025), suggesting that headache intensity decreases earlier in the evening in subjects who used on-demand medication, while headache subtype, prophylactic medication use, and sex were not associated with the difference. The occurrence of acute headache exacerbation also showed a significant diurnal variation, with a peak after noon (P = 0.0015).
Conclusions
Tension-type headache was shown to have a significant diurnal variation. The relation to pathophysiology and psychosocial aspects needs to be further explored.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-18
PMCID: PMC3479012  PMID: 22943264
Tension-type headache; Ecological momentary assessment; Electronic diary; Diurnal variation
17.  Results of a psychosomatic training program in China, Vietnam and Laos: successful cross-cultural transfer of a postgraduate training program for medical doctors 
Background
With the “ASIA-LINK” program, the European Community has supported the development and implementation of a curriculum of postgraduate psychosomatic training for medical doctors in China, Vietnam and Laos. Currently, these three countries are undergoing great social, economic and cultural changes. The associated psychosocial stress has led to increases in psychological and psychosomatic problems, as well as disorders for which no adequate medical or psychological care is available, even in cities. Health care in these three countries is characterized by the coexistence of Western medicine and traditional medicine. Psychological and psychosomatic disorders and problems are insufficiently recognized and treated, and there is a need for biopsychosocially orientated medical care. Little is known about the transferability of Western-oriented psychosomatic training programs in the Southeast Asian cultural context.
Methods
The curriculum was developed and implemented in three steps: 1) an experimental phase to build a future teacher group; 2) a joint training program for future teachers and German teachers; and 3) training by Asian trainers that was supervised by German teachers. The didactic elements included live patient interviews, lectures, communication skills training and Balint groups. The training was evaluated using questionnaires for the participants and interviews of the German teachers and the future teachers.
Results
Regional training centers were formed in China (Shanghai), Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City and Hue) and Laos (Vientiane). A total of 200 physicians completed the training, and 30 physicians acquired the status of future teacher. The acceptance of the training was high, and feelings of competence increased during the courses. The interactive training methods were greatly appreciated, with the skills training and self-experience ranked as the most important topics. Adaptations to the cultural background of the participants were necessary for the topics of “breaking bad news,” the handling of negative emotions, discontinuities in participation, the hierarchical doctor-patient relationship, culture-specific syndromes and language barriers. In addition to practical skills for daily clinical practice, the participants wanted to learn more about didactic teaching methods. Half a year after the completion of the training program, the participants stated that the program had a great impact on their daily medical practice.
Conclusions
The training in psychosomatic medicine for postgraduate medical doctors resulted in a positive response and is an important step in addressing the barriers in providing psychosomatic primary care. The transferability of western concepts should be tested locally, and adaptations should be undertaken where necessary. The revised curriculum forms the basis of training in psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy for medical students and postgraduate doctors in China, Vietnam and Laos.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-17
PMCID: PMC3546304  PMID: 22929520
Psychosomatic medicine; Curriculum; Teaching of teachers; China; Vietnam; Laos
18.  The effect of Lactobacillus brevis KB290 against irritable bowel syndrome: a placebo-controlled double-blind crossover trial 
Background
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of the digestive tract that causes chronic abdominal symptoms. We evaluated the effects of Lactobacillus brevis KB290 (KB290), which has been demonstrated to be effective at improving bowel movements and the composition of intestinal microflora, on IBS symptoms.
Methods
We performed a placebo control double-blind cross matched trial. Thirty-five males and females (aged 6 years and above) who had been diagnosed with IBS according to the Rome III criteria were divided into 2 groups, and after a 4-week pre-trial observation period, they were administered test capsules containing KB290 or placebo for 4 weeks (consumption period I). Then, the capsule administration was suspended for 4 weeks in both groups (washout period), before the opposite capsules were administered for a further 4 weeks (consumption period II). Fecal samples were collected on the first day of the pre-consumption observation period, the last day of consumption period I, the last day of the washout period, and the last day of consumption period II. In addition, the subjects’ IBS symptoms and quality of life (QOL) and any adverse events that they experienced were evaluated.
Results
No significant difference in IBS symptoms was noted among the various periods. However, the mean QOL scores were improved during the test capsule consumption.
The frequencies of watery and mushy feces were significantly lower in the test capsule consumption period than during the pre-consumption observation period, and the frequency of abdominal pain was significantly reduced in the test capsule consumption period compared with the other periods.
The frequency of the genus Bifidobacterium was significantly higher, and that of the genus Clostridium was significantly lower, after the test capsule consumption than after the placebo consumption. The frequencies of the genera Lactobacillus, Bacteroides, and Enterococcus were also investigated, but no differences in their frequencies were detected between the placebo and test capsule consumption periods.
Conclusions
Probiotics, the safety of which has been established, are used widely in various foods and can now be purchased readily. The results of the present study suggest that KB290 is useful for early intervention in IBS.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-16
PMCID: PMC3489517  PMID: 22863114
Irritable bowel syndrome; Lactobacillus brevis KB290; Probiotic
19.  Psychosocial problems of Pakistani parents of Thalassemic children: a cross sectional study done in Bahawalpur, Pakistan 
Background
Thalassemia is a blood disorder passed down through families (inherited) in which the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin. This disorder results in excessive destruction of red blood cells, and there is no effective treatment. Patients require lifelong blood transfusion, usually started within 6 to 12 months of birth of patient, which on other hand has its own complications. It is a chronic disease that manifests so early in life that it leads to psychological and social problems for parents . We focused on parents to assess the impact of their child’s disease.
Objective
To determine the psychosocial problems of parents of thalassemic children.
Methods
This cross sectional study was conducted among the parents of thalassemic children attending THALASSEMIA CENTRE, BAHAVAL VICTORIA HOSPITAL (BVH), BAHAWALPUR, PAKISTAN during the year 2011. A self designed questionnaire was used that contained questions regarding psychological and social aspects. Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) was used to assess the depression of parents of thalassemic children.
Results
Of the 100 parents interviewed, the majority were mothers (71%) , with a mean age of 32 ± 8.07 years for both sexes. 29 percent of the parents had moderate to severe depression, 16 percent had sleep disturbances. 56 percent were downgraded by relatives. There was a significant relationship between respondent education and depression (p < 0.05).
Conclusion
A substantial number of parents have psychosocial problems due to the disease of their child. Parent counseling is needed on regular basis.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-15
PMCID: PMC3489523  PMID: 22853002
Parents; Psychological morbidity; Thalassemia; Social relationship; Adjustment disorder; Pakistan
20.  Respiratory function of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and caregiver distress level: a correlational study 
Background
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a rare, fatal neurodegenerative disorder with no curative treatment characterized by degeneration of motor neurons involving a progressive impairment of motor and respiratory functions. Most patients die of ventilator respiratory failure. Caregivers have a great influence on the patient”s quality of life as well as on the quality of care. Home influence of the caregiver on patient care is notable. To date, no study has investigated how psychological issues of caregivers would influence respiratory variables of ALS patients. The study aimed at finding out if there is a relationship between the respiratory function of ALS patients and the level of distress of their caregivers.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted to investigate respiratory issues (PCF and FVC) and the perception of social support of ALS patients. Caregivers filled questionnaires about trait anxiety, depression, and burden of care. Forty ALS patients and their caregivers were recruited.
Results
FVC and PCF were positively related to patient perception of social support and negatively related to caregiver anxiety, depression, and burden.
Discussion
The distress of ALS caregivers is related to patient respiratory issues. The first and more intuitive explanation emphasizes the impact that the patient’s clinical condition has with respect to the caregiver. However, it is possible to hypothesize that if caregivers feel psychologically better, their patient’s quality of life improves and that a condition of greater well-being and relaxation could also increase ventilatory capacity. Furthermore, care management could be carried out more easily by caregivers who pay more attention to the patient's respiratory needs.
Conclusion
Patient perception of social support and caregiver distress are related to respiratory issues in ALS.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-14
PMCID: PMC3472192  PMID: 22721255
Quality of life; Bio-psycho-social interaction; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Non-invasive ventilation; Health care; Caregivers
21.  Role overload, pain and physical dysfunction in early rheumatoid or undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis in Canada 
Background
Inflammatory arthritis impairs participation in societal roles. Role overload arises when the demands by a given role set exceed the resources; time and energy, to carry out the required tasks. The present study examines the association between role overload and disease outcomes in early inflammatory arthritis (EIA).
Methods
Patients (n = 104) of 7.61 months mean duration of inflammatory arthritis completed self-report questionnaires on sociodemographics, disease characteristics and role overload. Pain was assessed using the Short Form McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) and physical functioning was measured with the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 (SF-36) physical functioning score. Role overload was measured by the Role Overload Scale. Patients indicated the number of social roles they occupied from a total of the three typical roles; marital, parental and paid work.
Results
Participants’ mean age was 56 years and 70.2% were female. Role overload was not correlated to the number of social roles, however, it was positively associated with pain (p = 0.004) and negatively associated with physical functioning (p = 0.001). On multivariate analysis, role overload was negatively associated with physical functioning after controlling for the relevant sociodemographic variables.
Conclusion
This study identifies a possible reciprocal relationship between role overload and physical functioning in patients with EIA.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-13
PMCID: PMC3428668  PMID: 22554167
Arthritis; Role overload; Physical functioning; Pain
22.  The development of agoraphobia is associated with the symptoms and location of a patient's first panic attack 
Background
The place where a patient experiences his/her first panic attack (FPA) may be related to their agoraphobia later in life. However, no investigations have been done into the clinical features according to the place where the FPA was experienced. In particular, there is an absence of detailed research examining patients who experienced their FPA at home. In this study, patients were classified by the location of their FPA and the differences in their clinical features were explored (e.g., symptoms of FPA, frequency of agoraphobia, and severity of FPA).
Methods
The subjects comprised 830 panic disorder patients who were classified into 5 groups based on the place of their FPA (home, school/office, driving a car, in a public transportation vehicle, outside of home), The clinical features of these patients were investigated. Additionally, for panic disorder patients with agoraphobia at their initial clinic visit, the clinical features of patients who experienced their FPA at home were compared to those who experienced their attack elsewhere.
Results
In comparison of the FPAs of the 5 groups, significant differences were seen among the 7 descriptors (sex ratio, drinking status, smoking status, severity of the panic attack, depression score, ratio of agoraphobia, and degree of avoidance behavior) and 4 symptoms (sweating, chest pain, feeling dizzy, and fear of dying). The driving and public transportation group patients showed a higher incidence of co-morbid agoraphobia than did the other groups. Additionally, for panic disorder patients with co-morbid agoraphobia, the at-home group had a higher frequency of fear of dying compared to the patients in the outside-of-home group and felt more severe distress elicited by their FPA.
Conclusion
The results of this study suggest that the clinical features of panic disorder patients vary according to the place of their FPA. The at-home group patients experienced "fear of dying" more frequently and felt more distress during their FPA than did the subjects in the other groups. These results indicate that patients experiencing their FPA at home should be treated with a focus on the fear and distress elicited by the attack.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-12
PMCID: PMC3349583  PMID: 22494552
Place of first panic attack; Panic attack symptoms; Subtype of panic disorder; Agoraphobia
23.  Adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome; a follow-up study displays concurrent improvement of circulatory abnormalities and clinical symptoms 
Background
The pathophysiology of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in adolescents is unknown, and the clinical course and prognosis is still questioned. Recent research indicates that abnormalities of autonomic cardiovascular control may play an important role. The aim of this research project was to perform a follow-up study of adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome, focusing on clinical symptoms and autonomic cardiovascular control.
Methods
47 adolescents (12-18 years old) with CFS were recruited from the outpatient clinic at the Department of Pediatrics, Oslo University Hospital. In a primary visit and a follow-up visit (3-17 months later), we evaluated: a) a wide range of complaints and symptoms and b) cardiovascular variables at baseline and during a 20° head-up tilt-test (HUT).
Results
At the second visit, patients reported significant improvement regarding functional impairments, fatigue severity, muscular pain, concentration problems, post-exertional malaise and the problem of non-relieving rest. Also, at the second visit, baseline heart rate (HR), blood pressure, total peripheral resistance index (TPRI) and LF/HF (low-frequency:high-frequency heart rate variability ratio, an index of sinus node sympathovagal balance derived from spectral analyses of heart rate) were significant lower, and the increases in HR, mean blood pressure (MBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and TPRI during tilt were significantly less pronounced as compared to the first visit. There was a significant correlation between changes in autonomic symptom score, fatigue severity score and functional impairment score from the first to the second visit.
Conclusions
The majority of adolescents with CFS experienced an improvement over time in functional impairment, self-reported fatigue and additional symptoms, and a concurrent improvement of autonomic cardiovascular control. A possible connection between clinical symptoms and abnormal autonomic control in CFS might represent a focus for further research.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-10
PMCID: PMC3337799  PMID: 22436201
Chronic fatigue syndrome; Fatigue severity scale; Autonomic symptom profile; Cardiovascular autonomic control; Adolescents
24.  The transition of adult patients with childhood-onset chronic diseases from pediatric to adult healthcare systems: a survey of the perceptions of Japanese pediatricians and child health nurses 
Background
Advances in medical science have enabled many children with chronic diseases to survive to adulthood. The transition of adult patients with childhood-onset chronic diseases from pediatric to adult healthcare systems has received attention in Europe and the United States. We conducted a questionnaire survey among 41 pediatricians at pediatric hospitals and 24 nurses specializing in adolescent care to compare the perception of transition of care from pediatric to adult healthcare services for such patients.
Findings
Three-fourths of the pediatricians and all of the nurses reported that transition programs were necessary. A higher proportion of the nurses realized the necessity of transition and had already developed such programs. Both pediatricians and nurses reported that a network covering the transition from pediatric to adult healthcare services has not been established to date.
Conclusions
It has been suggested that spreading the importance of a transition program among pediatricians and developing a pediatric-adult healthcare network would contribute to the biopsychosocial well-being of adult patients with childhood-onset chronic disease.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-8
PMCID: PMC3383542  PMID: 22433283
Transition of care; Pediatrician; Child health nurse; Adult patients with child-onset chronic illness; Psychosomatic problems
25.  Attachment style contributes to the outcome of a multimodal lifestyle intervention 
Background & Aims
The long-term success of life-style interventions in the treatment of obesity is limited. Although psychological factors have been suggested to modify therapeutic effects, specifically the implications of attachment styles and the patient-therapist relationship have not been examined in detail yet.
Methods
This study included 44 obese patients who participated in a one-year multimodal weight-reduction program. Attachment style was analyzed by the Adult Attachment Prototype Rating (AAPR) inventory and its relation to a one-year weight reduction program was studied. The patient-therapist-relationship was assessed using the Helping Alliance Questionnaire.
Results
Attachment style was secure in 68% of participants and insecure (preoccupied and dismissing) in 32%. Interestingly a significantly higher weight-reduction was found in securely (SAI) compared to insecurely attached individuals (UAI; p < 0.05). This estimation correlated positively also to the quality of helping alliance (p = 0.004).
Conclusions
The frequency of insecure attachment in obese individuals was comparable to that of the normal population. Our data suggest a greater weight-reduction for SAI than for UAI, and the patient-therapist relationship was rated more positively. The conclusion can be drawn that a patient's attachment style plays a role in an interdisciplinary treatment program for obesity and has an influence on the effort to lose weight.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-3
PMCID: PMC3296567  PMID: 22300715
attachment style; obesity; patient-therapist relationship; weight reduction

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