Chronic illness adds stress to patients’ relationships with their partners, and the stress can be compounded for a debilitating but ‘invisible’ and unpredictable illness like ME/CFS. Could alleviation of this stress alter the physiological factors driving symptom severity?
Michael H Antoni, PhD, a specialist in “psycho-neuro-immunology” at the University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL), is recruiting 150 men and women diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and their partners – to trial an experimental 10-week patient-partner focused stress management intervention, delivered by videophone.
The trial (“Patient-Partner Stress Management Effects on CFS Symptoms and Neuroimmune Process”) will be controlled.
• Patients receiving the experimental therapy will undertake ten 90-minute sessions of patient-partner cognitive behavioral stress management. The sessions will cover techniques for relaxation, stress awareness, cognitive restructuring, coping skills training, and interpersonal skills training.
• Patients/partners in the control group will receive videophone delivered educational information about healthy behavior including nutrition, sleep and other factors.
The objective is to determine the effect that the patient-partner stress management intervention may have on the frequency & severity “of CFS symptoms, and on related psychosocial and neuroimmune processes.”
Measures: This will involve measuring changes in perceived stress, depressed mood, and social processes, as well as changes in the daily salivary cortisol pattern and ratios of inflammation-producing to inflammation-modulating cytokines ([IL-1? + IL-6 + TNF-?]:[IL-13 + IL-10]). The measurements will be made at baseline, and at 5 months and 9 months after therapy completion.
Criteria: Patients of all ages 21 to 75 are eligible. Key inclusion criteria are having a partner, English fluency, no prior psychiatric treatment for a serious disorder such as psychosis or suicidality, and no co-morbid condition or medical treatment that is affecting the immune system.
To learn more about the trial, and for information about whom to contact with questions about the study and use of videophones, see the trial’s ClinicalTrials.gov listing (http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01650636)