Editor’s comment: In psychology, the term ‘affect’ refers to how people experience emotions and interact with their environment.
People with a high positive affect (PA) view themselves and the world around them in generally positive terms. They tend to focus on the pleasant aspects of themselves, others and the world, exhibiting optimism, a sense of well-being and high self-esteem.
People with a high negative affect (NA) view themselves and the world around them in generally negative terms. They tend to focus on the unpleasant aspects of themselves, others and the world, exhibiting distress, anxiety and dissatisfaction.
Everyone has traits of both PA and NA. The levels of PA and NA an individual has determines his ‘affect balance style’ (ABS). The ABS groups are:
Healthy – high PA, low NA
Depressive – low PA, high NA
Low – low PA, low NA
Reactive – high PA, high NA
This study found that fibromyalgia patients with a Healthy ABS had the lowest level of symptoms and those with a Depressive ABS had the highest level of symptoms.
A Comparison of Fibromyalgia Symptoms in Patients with Healthy versus Depressive, Low and Reactive Affect Balance Styles.
By L.L. Toussaint, A. et al.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Affect balance reflects relative levels of negative affect (NA) and positive affect (PA) and includes four styles: Healthy (low NA/high PA), Depressive (high NA/low PA), Reactive (high NA/high PA) and Low (low NA/low PA). These affect balance styles may have important associations with clinical outcomes in patients with fibromyalgia. Herein, we evaluated the severity of core fibromyalgia symptom domains as described by the Outcomes Research in Rheumatology-Fibromyalgia working group in the context of the four affect balance styles.
METHODS: Data from 735 patients with fibromyalgia who completed the Brief Pain Inventory, Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory, Profile of Mood States, Medical Outcomes Sleep Scale, Multiple Ability Self-Report Questionnaire, Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire-Revised, Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36, and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule were included in this analysis.
RESULTS: The majority (51.8%) of patients in our sample had a Depressive affect balance style; compared to patients with a Healthy affect balance style, they scored significantly worse in all fibromyalgia symptom domains including pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, dyscognition, depression, anxiety, stiffness, and functional status (P = <.001 – .004). Overall, patients with a Healthy affect balance style had the lowest level of symptoms, while symptom levels of those with Reactive and Low affect balance styles were distributed in between those of the Depressive and Healthy groups.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The results of our cross-sectional study suggest that having a Healthy affect balance style is associated with better physical and psychological symptom profiles in fibromyalgia. Futures studies evaluating these associations longitudinally could provide rationale for evaluating the effect of psychological interventions on affect balance and clinical outcomes in fibromyalgia.
Source: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, March 1, 2014. By L.L. Toussaint, A. Vincent, S.J. McAllister, T.H. Oh and A.L. Hassett. Department of Psychology, Luther College, 700 College Drive, Decorah, Iowa 52101. Division of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, Minnesota 55905. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, Minnesota 55905. Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, 1500 E Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109.