Fifteen years ago, Leonard A Jason, PhD, and colleagues at DePaul University’s Center for Community Research developed a concept that they thought might help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Fibromyalgia, and/or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity patients cope with the isolation and difficulties of life with severe fatigue and other debilitating symptoms.
The patient participants – who have ranged in age from 15 to 76, average age 56 - are provided a Buddy, who is a volunteer DePaul University student. Required to learn about ME/CFS and the issues patients face through a special training program at DePaul, the Buddies offer a reliable source of practical, social, and emotional support, including once or twice weekly visits and errand duty as needed.
In turn the student Buddies gain friends, understanding, and valuable hands on experience in how to listen and deal with others empathetically - a skill that is crucial in the field of psychology. The volunteers also administer pre- and post-test measures to the participants to evaluate how the program has affected their symptoms and/or emotional health, says Dr. Jason.
Now Jason, et al. have written a report on the significant benefits this simple program has provided for both patients and Buddies, with comments and other information that they hope will encourage and advocate for the necessity of similar types of community intervention programs elsewhere.
To read their report, published in the Winter 2009 issue of the quarterly IACFS/ME Bulletin, click here.
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