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Editor's note: Scientists in Norway have developed a new scale for measuring self-regulatory fatigue (SRF) in chronic multisymptom illnesses like fibromyalgia and ME/CFS. According to the study authors, “Self-regulation refers to any ability to control or change reactions and behavior, and can involve cognitive processes, such as the ability to control thoughts and impulses, set goals, and make decisions; emotional processes, such as being able to regulate moods or feelings; and more behavioral or physiological processes, such as the capacity to activate and get ready for fight or flight, or ability to quiet down, relax, and replenish resources. In essence, self-regulation involves capacity to control, guide, manage, or change thoughts, emotions, or behavior.
“An abundance of research over the past decade has shown that the ability to self-regulate is a variable and limited resource that might be depleted or fatigued. Self-regulatory efforts such as inhibiting urges, making decisions, or suppressing thoughts or emotions have, for example, been associated with a decreased ability to persist with subsequent tasks, an effect known as self-regulatory “ego” depletion, or SRF.”
Self-regulatory fatigue in chronic multisymptom illnesses: scale development, fatigue, and self-control
– Source: Journal of Pain Research, March 6, 2013
By Lise Solberg Nes, Shawna L Ehlers, Mary O Whipple, and Ann Vincent
BACKGROUND: Self-regulatory capacity involves ability to regulate thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Chronic multisymptom illnesses such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are accompanied by numerous challenges, and have recently been associated with self-regulatory fatigue (SRF). Chronic multisymptom illnesses are also frequently associated with physical fatigue, and through development of a scale measuring SRF, the current study aimed to examine how SRF can be distinguished from physical fatigue. The study also sought to distinguish SRF from self-control.
METHODS: Two self-regulation researchers developed 30 items related to self-regulatory capacity. These items were distributed to patients (n = 296) diagnosed with chronic multisymptom illness together with validated measures of physical fatigue and self-control. A principal factor analysis was employed to examine factor structures, identify inter-item relationships, and aid in scale development.
RESULTS: The final proposed scale consisted of 18 items measuring self-regulatory capacity (SRF-18) with cognitive, emotional, and behavioral SRF components. Internal consistency and reliability was acceptable (Cronbach's á = 0.81). The final scale was moderately correlated with self-control (r = -0.48) and highly correlated with physical fatigue (r = 0.75), although more so with emotional (r = 0.72) and mental (r = 0.65) than physical (r = 0.46) fatigue components.
CONCLUSION: The current study suggests a new scale for measurement of SRF in chronic multisymptom illness. Although cross-validation studies are necessary, such a scale may contribute to a better understanding of the concept of self-regulation and the role of SRF in chronic illness. Although related to physical fatigue and self-control, the results point to SRF as a distinct construct.
Source: Journal of Pain Research, March 6, 2013. By Lise Solberg Nes, Shawna L Ehlers, Mary O Whipple, and Ann Vincent. Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA ; Center for Shared Decision Making and Collaborative Care Research, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.