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1.  Knowledge and Attitudes of GPs in Saxony-Anhalt concerning the Psychological Aspects of Bronchial Asthma: A Questionnaire Study 
Bronchial Asthma is a worldwide condition with particularly high prevalence in first world countries. The reasons are multifactorial but a neglected area is the psychological domain. It is well known that heavy emotions can trigger attacks and that depression negatively affects treatment outcomes. It is also known that personality type has a greater effect on disease prevalence than in many other conditions. However, many potential psychological treatments are hardly considered, neither in treatment guidelines nor in reviews by asthma specialists. Moreover, there is very little research concerning the beliefs and practices of doctors regarding psychological treatments. Using a questionnaire survey we ascertained that local GPs in Saxony-Anhalt have reasonably good knowledge about the psychological elements of asthma; a third consider it to be some of the influence (20-40% aetiology) and a further third consider it to be even more important than that (at least 40% total aetiology). Our GPs use psychosomatic counseling sometimes or usually in the areas of sport and smoking (circa 85% GPs), although less so regarding breathing techniques and relaxation (c40% usually or sometimes do this) However despite this knowledge they refer to the relevant clinicians very rarely (98% sometimes, usually or always refer to a respiratory physician compared with only 11% referring for psychological help).
PMCID: PMC3022548  PMID: 21171975
2.  No differences in cardiovascular autonomic responses to mental stress in chronic fatigue syndrome adolescents as compared to healthy controls 
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disabling disease with unknown etiology. There is accumulating evidence of altered cardiovascular autonomic responses to different somatic stressors, in particular orthostatic stress, whereas autonomic responses to mental stress remain to be investigated. In this study, we explored cardiovascular autonomic responses to a simple mental stress test in CFS patients and healthy controls.
A consecutive sample of 13 patients with CFS, aged 12 to 18 years, and a volunteer sample of 53 healthy control subjects of equal age and gender distribution were included. Blood pressure, heart rate and acral skin blood flow were continuously recorded during an arithmetic exercise.
At baseline, heart rate was significantly higher among CFS patients than controls (p = 0.02). During the arithmetic exercise, however, there were no significant differences in the responses between the two groups.
In conclusion, CFS patients have unaltered autonomic responses to simple mental stress as compared to healthy control subjects.
PMCID: PMC3012010  PMID: 21156045
3.  The costs of dominance: testosterone, cortisol and intestinal parasites in wild male chimpanzees 
Male members of primate species that form multi-male groups typically invest considerable effort into attaining and maintaining high dominance rank. Aggressive behaviors are frequently employed to acquire and maintain dominance status, and testosterone has been considered the quintessential physiological moderator of such behaviors. Testosterone can alter both neurological and musculoskeletal functions that may potentiate pre-existing patterns of aggression. However, elevated testosterone levels impose several costs, including increased metabolic rates and immunosuppression. Cortisol also limits immune and reproductive functions.
To improve understanding of the relationships between dominance rank, hormones and infection status in nonhuman primates, we collected and analyzed 67 fecal samples from 22 wild adult male chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Samples were analyzed for cortisol and testosterone levels as well as intestinal parasite prevalence and richness. 1,700 hours of observation data were used to determine dominance rank of each animal. We hypothesized that dominance rank would be directly associated with fecal testosterone and cortisol levels and intestinal parasite burden.
Fecal testosterone (but not cortisol) levels were directly associated with dominance rank, and both testosterone and cortisol were directly associated with intestinal parasite richness (number of unique species recovered). Dominance rank was directly associated with helminth (but not protozoan) parasite richness, so that high ranking animals had higher testosterone levels and greater helminth burden.
One preliminary interpretation is that the antagonist pleiotropic effects of androgens and glucocorticoids place a cost on attaining and maintaining high dominance rank in this species. Because of the costs associated with elevated steroid levels, dominance status may be an honest signal of survivorship against helminth parasites.
PMCID: PMC3004803  PMID: 21143892
4.  Psychological characteristics of Japanese patients with chronic pain assessed by the Rorschach test 
The increasing number of patients with chronic pain in Japan has become a major issue in terms of the patient's quality of life, medical costs, and related social problems. Pain is a multi-dimensional experience with physiological, affective, cognitive, behavioral and social components, and recommended to be managed via a combination of bio-psycho-social aspects. However, a biomedical approach is still the dominant method of pain treatment in Japan. The current study aimed to evaluate comprehensive psychological functions and processes in Japanese chronic pain patients.
The Rorschach Comprehensive System was administered to 49 in-patients with non-malignant chronic pain. Major variables and frequencies from the test were then compared to normative data from non-patient Japanese adults by way of the t-test and chi-square test.
Patients exhibited high levels of emotional distress with a sense of helplessness with regard to situational stress, confusion, and ambivalent feelings. These emotions were managed by the patients in an inappropriate manner. Cognitive functions resulted in moderate dysfunction in all stages. Information processing tended to focus upon minute features in an inflexible manner. Mediational dysfunction was likely to occur with unstable affective conditions. Ideation was marked by pessimistic and less effective thinking. Since patients exhibited negative self-perception, their interpersonal relationship skills tended to be ineffective. Originally, our patients displayed average psychological resources for control, stress tolerance, and social skills for interpersonal relationships. However, patient coping styles were either situation- or emotion-dependent, and patients were more likely to exhibit emotional instability influenced by external stimuli, resulting in increased vulnerability to pain.
Data gathered from the Rorschach test suggested psychological approaches to support chronic pain patients that are likely to be highly beneficial, and we thus recommend their incorporation into the course of current pain treatments.
PMCID: PMC3016376  PMID: 21110860
6.  Why Japanese workers show low work engagement: An item response theory analysis of the Utrecht Work Engagement scale 
With the globalization of occupational health psychology, more and more researchers are interested in applying employee well-being like work engagement (i.e., a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption) to diverse populations. Accurate measurement contributes to our further understanding and to the generalizability of the concept of work engagement across different cultures. The present study investigated the measurement accuracy of the Japanese and the original Dutch versions of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (9-item version, UWES-9) and the comparability of this scale between both countries. Item Response Theory (IRT) was applied to the data from Japan (N = 2,339) and the Netherlands (N = 13,406). Reliability of the scale was evaluated at various levels of the latent trait (i.e., work engagement) based the test information function (TIF) and the standard error of measurement (SEM). The Japanese version had difficulty in differentiating respondents with extremely low work engagement, whereas the original Dutch version had difficulty in differentiating respondents with high work engagement. The measurement accuracy of both versions was not similar. Suppression of positive affect among Japanese people and self-enhancement (the general sensitivity to positive self-relevant information) among Dutch people may have caused decreased measurement accuracy. Hence, we should be cautious when interpreting low engagement scores among Japanese as well as high engagement scores among western employees.
PMCID: PMC2990723  PMID: 21054839
7.  Lessons learned in the development of process quality indicators for cancer care in Japan 
In Japan, attention has increasingly focused on ensuring the quality of care, particularly in the area of cancer care. The 2006 Basic Cancer Control Act reinforced efforts to ensure the quality of cancer care in a number of sectors, including the role of government in ensuring quality. We initiated a government-funded research project to develop quality indicators to measure the quality of care for five major cancers (breast, lung, stomach, colorectal, and liver cancer) in Japan, and palliative care for cancers in general. While we successfully developed a total of 206 quality indicators, a number of issues have been raised regarding the concepts and methodologies used to measure quality. Examples include the choice between measuring the process of care versus the outcome of care; the degree to which the process-outcome link should be confirmed in real-world measurement; handling of exceptional cases; interpretation of measurement results between quality of care versus quality of documentation; creation of summary scores; and the optimal number of quality indicators for measurement considering the trade-off between the measurement validity versus resource limitations. These and other issues must be carefully considered when attempting to measure quality of care, and although many appear to have no correct answer, continuation of the project requires that a decision nevertheless be made. Future activities in this project, which is still ongoing, should focus on the further exploration of these problems.
PMCID: PMC2990721  PMID: 21054836
8.  Effort-reward imbalance and its association with health among permanent and fixed-term workers 
In the past decade, the changing labor market seems to have rejected the traditional standards employment and has begun to support a variety of non-standard forms of work in their place. The purpose of our study was to compare the degree of job stress, sources of job stress, and association of high job stress with health among permanent and fixed-term workers.
Our study subjects were 709 male workers aged 30 to 49 years in a suburb of Tokyo, Japan. In 2008, we conducted a cross-sectional study to compare job stress using an effort-reward imbalance (ERI) model questionnaire. Lifestyles, subjective symptoms, and body mass index were also observed from the 2008 health check-up data.
The rate of job stress of the high-risk group measured by ERI questionnaire was not different between permanent and fixed-term workers. However, the content of the ERI components differed. Permanent workers were distressed more by effort, overwork, or job demand, while fixed-term workers were distressed more by their job insecurity. Moreover, higher ERI was associated with existence of subjective symptoms (OR = 2.07, 95% CI: 1.42-3.03) and obesity (OR = 2.84, 95% CI:1.78-4.53) in fixed-term workers while this tendency was not found in permanent workers.
Our study showed that workers with different employment types, permanent and fixed-term, have dissimilar sources of job stress even though their degree of job stress seems to be the same. High ERI was associated with existing subjective symptoms and obesity in fixed-term workers. Therefore, understanding different sources of job stress and their association with health among permanent and fixed-term workers should be considered to prevent further health problems.
PMCID: PMC2990722  PMID: 21054838
9.  Health literacy and health communication 
Health communication consists of interpersonal or mass communication activities focused on improving the health of individuals and populations. Skills in understanding and applying information about health issues are critical to this process and may have a substantial impact on health behaviors and health outcomes. These skills have recently been conceptualized in terms of health literacy (HL). This article introduces current concepts and measurements of HL, and discusses the role of HL in health communication, as well as future research directions in this domain. Studies of HL have increased dramatically during the past few years, but a gap between the conceptual definition of HL and its application remains. None of the existing instruments appears to completely measure the concept of HL. In particular, studies on communication/interaction and HL remain limited. Furthermore, HL should be considered not only in terms of the characteristics of individuals, but also in terms of the interactional processes between individuals and their health and social environments. Improved HL may enhance the ability and motivation of individuals to find solutions to both personal and public health problems, and these skills could be used to address various health problems throughout life. The process underpinning HL involves empowerment, one of the major goals of health communication.
PMCID: PMC2990724  PMID: 21054840
10.  Matrix analysis and risk management to avert depression and suicide among workers 
Suicide is among the most tragic outcomes of all mental disorders, and the prevalence of suicide has risen dramatically during the last decade, particularly among workers. This paper reviews and proposes strategies to avert suicide and depression with regard to the mind body medicine equation hypothesis, metrics analysis of mental health problems from a public health and clinical medicine view.
In occupational fields, the mind body medicine hypothesis has to deal with working environment, working condition, and workers' health. These three factors chosen in this paper were based on the concept of risk control, called San-kanri, which has traditionally been used in Japanese companies, and the causation concepts of host, agent, and environment. Working environment and working condition were given special focus with regard to tackling suicide problems. Matrix analysis was conducted by dividing the problem of working conditions into nine cells: three prevention levels (primary, secondary, and tertiary) were proposed for each of the three factors of the mind body medicine hypothesis (working environment, working condition, and workers' health). After using these main strategies (mind body medicine analysis and matrix analysis) to tackle suicide problems, the paper talks about the versatility of case-method teaching, "Hiyari-Hat activity," routine inspections by professionals, risk assessment analysis, and mandatory health check-up focusing on sleep and depression. In the risk assessment analysis, an exact assessment model was suggested using a formula based on multiplication of the following three factors: (1) severity, (2) frequency, and (3) possibility.
Mental health problems, including suicide, are rather tricky to deal with because they involve evaluation of individual cases. The mind body medicine hypothesis and matrix analysis would be appropriate tactics for suicide prevention because they would help the evaluation of this issue as a tangible problem.
PMCID: PMC2994806  PMID: 21054837
11.  Effects of the α1-adrenoceptor agonist phenylephrine on SART stress-induced orthostatic hypotension in rats 
Specific alternation of rhythm in temperature (SART)-stressed rats, an animal model of autonomic imbalance, exhibit low blood pressure and tachycardia during consciousness and under anesthesia. In addition, these rats easily develop orthostatic hypotension (OH) as a response to postural manipulation. Hence, we studied the influence of the adrenalin α1-receptor agonist phenylephrine on stress-induced OH in SART-stressed rats and unstressed rats.
Male Wistar rats weighing 250-300 g were used. Rats were fixed in the supine position under urethane anesthesia. Blood pressure was directly measured from the left common carotid artery and ECG was recorded simultaneously.
The maximum decrease in blood pressure and the area under the blood pressure-time curve were both large, while the %reflex was small in the SART-stressed rats compared with unstressed rats. In the SART-stressed rats, prolonged intravenous administration of phenylephrine reduced OH at a dose that barely affected unstressed rats.
The results suggested that sympathetic dysfunction is a factor underlying SART stress-induced OH.
PMCID: PMC2967492  PMID: 20939897
12.  The parenting attitudes and the stress of mothers predict the asthmatic severity of their children: a prospective study 
To examine relationships between a mother's stress-related conditions and parenting attitudes and their children's asthmatic status.
274 mothers of an asthmatic child 2 to 12 years old completed a questionnaire including questions about their chronic stress/coping behaviors (the "Stress Inventory"), parenting attitudes (the "Ta-ken Diagnostic Test for Parent-Child Relationship, Parent Form"), and their children's disease status. One year later, a follow-up questionnaire was mailed to the mothers that included questions on the child's disease status.
223 mothers (81%) responded to the follow-up survey. After controlling for non-psychosocial factors including disease severity at baseline, multiple linear regression analysis followed by multiple logistic regression analysis found chronic irritation/anger and emotional suppression to be aggravating factors for children aged < 7 years; for children aged 7 and over, the mothers' egocentric behavior was a mitigating factor while interference was an aggravating factor.
Different types of parental stress/coping behaviors and parenting styles may differently predict their children's asthmatic status, and such associations may change as children grow.
PMCID: PMC2959059  PMID: 20929533
13.  Is the association between optimistic cardiovascular risk perceptions and lower rates of cardiovascular disease mortality explained by biomarkers of systemic inflammation or endothelial function? A case-cohort study 
More optimistic perceptions of cardiovascular disease risk are associated with substantively lower rates of cardiovascular death among men. It remains unknown whether this association represents causality (i.e. perception leads to actions/conditions that influence cardiovascular disease occurrence) or residual confounding by unmeasured factors that associate with risk perceptions and with physiological processes that promote cardiovascular disease (i.e. inflammation or endothelial dysfunction).
To evaluate whether previously unmeasured biological markers of inflammation or endothelial dysregulation confound the observed association between cardiovascular disease risk perceptions and cardiovascular disease outcomes;
We conducted a nested case-cohort study among community-dwelling men from Southeastern New England (USA) who were interviewed between 1989 and 1990 as part of the Pawtucket Heart Health Program. We measured C-reactive protein (CRP) and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) levels from stored sera for a random sample of the parent cohort (control sample, n = 127) and all cases of cardiovascular death observed through 2005 (case sample, n = 44). We evaluated potential confounding using stratified analyses and logistic regression modeling.
Optimistic ratings of risk associated with lower odds of dying from cardiovascular causes among men (OR = 0.39, 95% CI = 0.17, 0.91). Neither CRP nor VEGF confounded these findings.
The strong cardio-protective association between optimistic ratings of cardiovascular disease risk and lower rates of cardiovascular mortality among men is not confounded by baseline biomarkers of systemic inflammation or endothelial dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC2949755  PMID: 20858244
14.  Relations of self-regulation and self-efficacy for exercise and eating and BMI change: A field investigation 
This study aimed to assess relations of self-regulatory skill use with self-efficacy for exercise and appropriate eating, and the resulting change in weight associated with participation in a nutrition and exercise treatment supported by cognitive-behavioral methods.
Adults with severe obesity (N = 95; mean BMI = 40.5 ± 3.9 kg/m2) participated in a 6-month exercise and nutrition treatment emphasizing self-regulatory skills. Changes in self-regulatory skills usage, self-efficacy, overall mood, and BMI were measured. Relations of changes in self-regulatory skill use and self-efficacy, for both physical activity and appropriate eating, were assessed, as was the possibility of mood change being a mediator of these relationships. Indirect effects of the variables associated with the present treatment on BMI change were then estimated.
For both exercise and appropriate eating, changes in self-regulation were associated with self-efficacy change. Mood change partially mediated the relationship between changes in self-regulation for appropriate eating and self-efficacy for appropriate eating. Self-efficacy changes for physical activity and controlled eating, together, explained a significant portion of the variance in BMI change (R2 = 0.26, p < 0.001). The total indirect effect of the treatment on BMI change was 0.20.
Findings suggest that training in self-regulation for exercise and eating may benefit self-efficacy and weight-loss outcomes. Thus, these variables should be considered in both the theory and behavioral treatment of obesity.
PMCID: PMC2941739  PMID: 20815891
15.  Electroencephalogram abnormalities in panic disorder patients: a study of symptom characteristics and pathology 
Since the 1980s, a high EEG abnormality rate has been reported for patients with panic disorder. However, how the EEG abnormalities of panic disorder patients are related to the clinical features and pathology of these patients has yet to be clarified. In this study we investigated whether or not EEG abnormalities are related to the 13 symptoms in the DSM-IV criteria for a diagnosis of panic attacks.
Subjects were 70 patients diagnosed with panic disorder.
Logistic regression analysis was performed with EEG findings as dependent variables and age, sex and with or without the 13 symptoms as independent variables.
(1)EEG findings for panic disorder patients with EEG abnormalities: Of the 17 patients, 13 had repeated slow waves in the θ-band; the most prevalent EEG abnormality found in this study. Paroxysmal abnormality interpreted as epileptiform was found in only two cases. (2)Nausea or abdominal distress (37.7% vs 82.45%, OR-12.5), derealization or depersonalization (7.5% vs 47.1%, OR = 13.9,) and paresthesias (43.4% vs 64.7%, OR = 7.9,) were extracted by multivariate analysis as factors related to EEG abnormalities.
Of the 70 patients studied, 17 had EEG abnormalities. Among these 17 cases, "repeated slow waves in the θ-band" was the most common abnormality. The factors identified as being related to EEG abnormalities are nausea or abdominal distress, derealization or depersonalization, and paresthesias. The study indicated that physiological predispositions are closely related to panic attacks.
PMCID: PMC2940923  PMID: 20731860
16.  Validation of a French version of the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory - short version: relationships between mindfulness and stress in an adult population 
Whereas interest in incorporating mindfulness into interventions in medicine is growing, data on the relationships of mindfulness to stress and coping in management is still scarce. This report first presents a French validation of the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory-short form (FMI) in a middle-aged working population. Secondly, it investigates the relationship between psychological adjustment and mindfulness.
Five hundred and six non-clinical middle-aged working individuals rated themselves on the self-report French version FMI and completed measures of psychological constructs potentially related to mindfulness levels.
Results were comparable to results of the original short version. Internal consistency of the scale based on the one-factor solution was .74, and test-retest reliability was good. The one-dimensional solution as the alternative to the two-factor structure solution yielded suboptimal fit indices. Correlations also indicated that individuals scoring high on mindfulness are prone to stress tolerance, positive affects and higher self-efficacy. Furthermore, subjects with no reports of stressful events were higher on mindfulness.
These data showed that mindfulness can be measured validly and reliably with the proposed French version of the FMI. The data also highlighted the relationship between mindfulness and stress in an adult population. Mindfulness appears to reduce negative appraisals of challenging or threatening events.
PMCID: PMC2927476  PMID: 20704696
17.  Posttraumatic growth, posttraumatic stress disorder and resilience of motor vehicle accident survivors 
Although some previous studies have suggested that posttraumatic growth (PTG) is comprised of several factors with different properties, few have examined both the association between PTG and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and between PTG and resilience, focusing on each of the factors of PTG. This study aimed to examine the hypothesis that some factors of PTG, such as personal strength, relate to resilience, whereas other factors, such as appreciation of life, relate to PTSD symptoms among Japanese motor vehicle accident (MVA) survivors.
This cross-sectional study was performed with 118 MVA survivors at 18 months post MVA. Data analyzed included self-reporting questionnaire scores on the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), the Impact of Event Scale- Revised (IES-R), and the Sense of Coherence (SOC) scale, which is one of the most widely used scales for measuring resilience. Correlations between scores on the PTGI and IES-R, the PTGI and SOC scale, and the IES-R and SOC scale were established by calculating Spearman's correlation coefficients.
PTGI was positively correlated with both SOC and PTSD symptoms, in spite of an inverse relationship between SOC and PTSD symptoms. Relating to others, new possibilities, and personal strength on the PTGI were correlated positively with SOC, and spiritual change and appreciation of life on the PTGI were positively correlated with PTSD symptoms.
Some factors of PTG were positively correlated with resilience, which can be regarded as an outcome of coping success, whereas other factors of PTG were positively correlated with PTSD symptoms, which can be regarded as signifying coping effort in the face of enduring distress. These findings contribute to our understanding of the psychological change experienced by MVA survivors, and to raising clinicians' awareness of the possibility that PTG represents both coping effort coexisting with distress and outcome of coping success.
PMCID: PMC2914073  PMID: 20573276
18.  The Thai version of the PSS-10: An Investigation of its psychometric properties 
Among the stress instruments that measure the degree to which life events are perceived as stressful, the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is widely used. The goal of this study was to examine the psychometric properties of a Thai version of the PSS-10 (T-PSS-10) with a clinical and non-clinical sample. Internal consistency, test-retest reliability, concurrent validity, and the factorial structure of the scale were tested.
A total sample of 479 adult participants was recruited for the study: 368 medical students and 111 patients from two hospitals in Northern Thailand. The T-PSS-10 was used along with the Thai version of State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the Thai Version of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), and the Thai Depression Inventory (TDI).
Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) yielded 2 factors with eigenvalues of 5.05 and 1.60, accounting for 66 percent of variance. Factor 1 consisted of 6 items representing "stress"; whereas Factor 2 consisted of 4 items representing "control". The item loadings ranged from 0.547 to 0.881. Investigation of the fit indices associated with Maximum Likelihood (ML) estimation revealed that the two-factor solution was adequate [χ2 = 35.035 (df = 26, N = 368, p < 0.111)]; Goodness-of-Fit Index (GFI) = 0.981; Root Mean Square Residual (RMR) = 0.022; Standardized Root Mean square Residual (SRMR) = 0.037, Comparative Fit Index (CFI) = 0.989; Normed Fit Index (NFI) = 0.96, Non-Normed Fit Index (NNFI) = 0.981, Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA) = 0.031. It was found that the T-PSS-10 had a significant positive correlation with the STAI (r = 0.60, p < 0.0001), and the TDI (r = 0.55, p < 0.0001); and was significantly negatively correlated with the RSES (r = -0.46, p < 0.0001, N = 368). The overall Cronbach's alpha was 0.85. The ICC was 0.82 (95% CI, 0.72 and 0.88) at 4 week-retest reliability.
The Thai version of the PSS-10 demonstrated excellent goodness-of-fit for the two factor solution model, as well as good reliability and validity for estimating the level of stress perception with a Thai population. Limitations of the study are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2905320  PMID: 20540784
19.  Affect School for chronic benign pain patients showed improved alexithymia assessments with TAS-20 
Alexithymia is a disturbance associated with psychosomatic disorders, pain syndromes, and a variety of psychiatric disorders. The Affect School (AS) based on Tomkins Affect Theory is a therapy focusing on innate affects and their physiological expressions, feelings, emotions and scripts. In this pilot study we tried the AS-intervention method in patients with chronic benign pain.
The AS-intervention, with 8 weekly group sessions and 10 individual sessions, was offered to 59 patients with chronic non-malignant pain at a pain rehabilitation clinic in Sweden 2004-2005. Pre and post intervention assessments were done with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HAD), the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20), the Visual Analogue Scale for pain assessment (VAS-pain), the European Quality of Life health barometer (EQoL) and the Stress and Crisis Inventory-93 (SCI-93). After the group sessions we used Bergdahl's Questionnaire for assessing changes in interpersonal relations, general well-being and evaluation of AS.
The AS intervention was completed by 54 out of 59 (92%) patients. Significant reductions in total TAS-20 post-test scores (p = 0.0006) as well as TAS-20 DIF and DDF factors (Difficulties Identifying Feelings, and Difficulties Describing Feelings) were seen (p = 0.0001, and p = 0.0008) while the EOT factor (Externally Oriented Thinking) did not change. Improvements of HAD-depression scores (p = 0.04), EQoL (p = 0.02) and self-assessed changes in relations to others (p < 0.001) were also seen. After Bonferroni Correction for Multiple Analyses the TAS-20 test score reduction was still significant as well as Bergdahl's test after group sessions. The HAD, EQoL, SCI-93, and VAS-pain scores were not significantly changed. The AS-intervention was ranked high by the participants.
This pilot study involving 59 patients with chronic benign pain indicates that the alexithymia DIF and DDF, as well as depression, social relations and quality of life may be improved by the Affect School therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC2892428  PMID: 20525319
20.  Work-related stress and psychosomatic medicine 
This article introduces key concepts of work-related stress relevant to the clinical and research fields of psychosomatic medicine. Stress is a term used to describe the body's physiological and/or psychological reaction to circumstances that require behavioral adjustment. According to the Japanese National Survey of Health, the most frequent stressors are work-related problems, followed by health-related and then financial problems. Conceptually, work-related stress includes a variety of conditions, such as overwork, unemployment or job insecurity, and lack of work-family balance. Job stress has been linked to a range of adverse physical and mental health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Stressful working conditions can also impact employee well-being indirectly by directly contributing to negative health behaviors or by limiting an individual's ability to make positive changes to lifestyle behaviors, such as smoking and sedentary behavior. Over the past two decades, two major job stress models have dominated the occupational health literature: the job demand-control-support model and the effort-reward imbalance model. In both models, standardized questionnaires have been developed and frequently used to assess job stress. Unemployment has also been reported to be associated with increased mortality and morbidity, such as by cardiovascular disease, stroke, and suicide. During the past two decades, a trend toward more flexible labor markets has emerged in the private and public sectors of developed countries, and temporary employment arrangements have increased. Temporary workers often complain that they are more productive but receive less compensation than permanent workers. A significant body of research reveals that temporary workers have reported chronic work-related stress for years. The Japanese government has urged all employers to implement four approaches to comprehensive mind/body health care for stress management in the workplace: focusing on individuals, utilizing supervisory lines, enlisting company health care staff, and referring to medical resources outside the company. Good communications between occupational health practitioners and physicians in charge in hospitals/clinics help employees with psychosomatic distress to return to work, and it is critical for psychosomatic practitioners and researchers to understand the basic ideas of work-related stress from the viewpoint of occupational health.
PMCID: PMC2882896  PMID: 20504368
21.  Immune function and health outcomes in women with depression 
This research reports immune function and health outcomes in women with depression, as compared with a non-depressed control group. Using Psychoneuroimmunolgy theory and a descriptive comparison design, scores on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) were used to divide 40 non-hospitalized Caucasian women between the ages of 18 and 65 years into either the control or depression comparison group. Women with depression were found to report significantly more incidences of illness over the previous two months and they were found to have significantly more indicators of illness at the time of the exam as compared to the controls. However, contrary to what has been documented in some earlier studies of depression, women with depression were not found to have significantly different immune function measures as compared to the control group. There was also no significant correlation between scores on the BDI and natural killer cell cytotoxicity in this study. While these findings support a connection between depression and both increased self-report of illness and increased signs and symptoms of minor illness or inflammation on physical exam, this study was not able to document that these effects were related to decreased immune function, as measured by natural killer cell activity or white blood cell counts.
PMCID: PMC2878291  PMID: 20438639
22.  Effect of day-to-day variations in adrenal cortex hormone levels on abdominal symptoms 
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is known to be related to abdominal symptoms, and the relationship between abdominal pain and cortisol secretory patterns has been previously investigated using a cross-sectional approach. Here, we investigated the effect of day-to-day variations in salivary cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate levels on abdominal symptoms in healthy individuals.
Eleven college students (4 males and 7 females) participated in this study. The participants were asked to collect their saliva immediately after awakening and before bedtime for eight consecutive days. They also completed a questionnaire about abdominal symptoms before bedtime. The linear mixed model was applied to analyze the effects of the day-by-day variability or the 8-day average adrenal hormone level (at awakening, before bedtime, slope from awakening to bedtime) on abdominal symptoms.
The day-to-day variability of cortisol levels before bedtime was negatively related with loose stool, while the day-to-day variability of the cortisol slope was positively correlated with loose stool. A low 8-day average dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate level at awakening was positively related with frequent bowel movements, loose stool, and long bouts of severe abdominal pain. Likewise, a low 8-day average dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate slope was positively related with long bouts of abdominal pain.
Low cortisol levels before bedtime and a steeper diurnal cortisol slope during the day may be related to bouts of diarrhea during the day.
PMCID: PMC2848621  PMID: 20298587
23.  Decreased response inhibition in middle-aged male patients with type 2 diabetes 
This study was performed to examine whether patients with type 2 diabetes have cognitive deficits associated with the prefrontal cortex (PFC).
Twenty-seven middle-aged patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes and 27 healthy controls underwent physical measurements and neuropsychological tasks. Response inhibition, reward prediction, and executive function were assessed by the Go/NoGo task, the reversal and extinction tasks, and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). To examine the interactions of being overweight with diabetes on cognitive performance, performance data were analysed by two-way ANCOVA with diabetes and overweight as factors and age as a covariate.
Patients with type 2 diabetes showed significantly decreased response inhibition in the Go/NoGo task (discriminability index: P = 0.001). There was an interaction of being overweight with diabetes on reaction time in the Go trials of the Go/NoGo task (P = 0.009). Being overweight was related to retained responses to the presentiment of reward in the extinction task (P = 0.029). The four groups showed normal cognitive performance in the WCST.
Our results showed that middle-aged, newly diagnosed and medication-free patients with type 2 diabetes have a particular neuropsychological deficit in inhibitory control of impulsive response, which is an independent effect of diabetes apart from being overweight.
PMCID: PMC2834594  PMID: 20181219

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