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The energy envelope theory and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome – AAOHN Journal, May 2008

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By Leonard Jason, Susan Torres-Harding, and Kathleen Muldowney • • June 27, 2008

[Note: Dr. Leonard Jason, PhD, directs DePaul University’s Center for Community Research, including the work of its Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Team.]

Individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) have little stamina and endurance, and pose a challenge for nursing professionals.

The Energy Envelope Theory, which posits that maintaining expended energy levels consistent with available energy levels may reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms, is particularly useful when working with clients with ME/CFS.

Anecdotal support from the client community for this theory supports its use as a management tool for ME/CFS, but little formal research has been done in this area.

In this study, a daily energy quotient was established by dividing the expended energy level by the perceived energy level and multiplying by 100. It was predicted that those participants who expended energy beyond their level of perceived energy would have more severe fatigue and symptoms and lower levels of physical and mental functioning.

Findings are congruent with the Energy Envelope Theory as they indicated that the daily energy quotient was related to several indices of functioning including:

  • Depression,
  • Anxiety,
  • Fatigue,
  • Pain,
  • Quality of life, and
  • Disability.

The overall results provide support for a strategy healthcare professionals can use when working with clients with ME/CFS.

Source: AAOHN (American Association of Occupational Health Nurses) Journal 2008 May;56(5):189-95. PMID: 18578185, by Jason LA, Muldowney K, Torres-Harding S. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, USA. [E-mail:]

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