TGI Friday! Our weekly round-up of recently published research abstracts | 8 January 2015

From the British Journal of Health Psychology, 24 December 2015

Significant other behavioural responses and patient chronic fatigue syndrome symptom fluctuations in the context of daily life: An experience sampling study

Rebecca Band(1,2,*), Christine Barrowclough(1), Richard Emsley(3), Matthew Machin(4) and Alison J. Wearden(1)
1) School of Psychological Sciences & Manchester Centre for Health Psychology, University of Manchester, UK
2) Centre for Applications of Health Psychology, University of Southampton, UK
3) Centre for Biostatistics, Institute of Population Health, University of Manchester, UK
4) Centre for Health Informatics, Institute of Population Health, University of Manchester, UK
*Correspondence should be addressed to Rebecca Band, Academic Unit of Psychology, University of Southampton, Shackleton Building, Highfield Campus, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK (email:



Significant other responses to patients’ symptoms are important for patient illness outcomes in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME); negative responses have been associated with increased patient depression, whilst increased disability and fatigue have been associated with solicitous significant other responses. The current study aimed to examine the relationship between significant other responses and patient outcomes within the context of daily life.


Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM).


Twenty-three patients with CFS/ME and their significant others were recruited from specialist CFS/ME services. Sixty momentary assessments, delivered using individual San Francisco Android Smartphones, were conducted over a period of 6 days. All participants reported on affect, dyadic contact, and significant other responses to the patient. Patients reported on symptom severity, disability, and activity management strategies.


Negative significant other responses were associated with increased patient symptom severity and distress reported at the same momentary assessment; there was evidence of a potentially mediating role of concurrent distress on symptom severity. Patient-perceived solicitous responses were associated with reduced patient activity and disability reported at the same momentary assessment. Lagged analyses indicate that momentary associations between significant other responses and patient outcomes are largely transitory; significant other responses were not associated with any of the patient outcomes at the subsequent assessment.


The results indicate that significant other responses are important influences on the day-to-day experience of CFS/ME. Further research examining patient outcomes in association with specific significant other behavioural responses is warranted and future interventions that target such significant other behaviours may be beneficial.


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