Pilot study investigating the utility of a specialized online symptom management program for individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome as compared to an online meditation program
Megan A Arroll, Elizabeth A Attree, Claire L Marshall, Christine P Dancey
Chronic Illness Research Team, School of Psychology, University of East London, London, UK
Background: Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a long-term, debilitating condition that impacts numerous areas of individuals' lives. The two predominant treatment options for ME/CFS are cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise therapy; however, many people have found these techniques unacceptable or even damaging. This pilot study aimed to evaluate the utility of a specialized online symptom management program for ME/CFS in comparison to an online meditation program in an effort to ascertain whether this tool could be a further option for those with ME/CFS.
Methods: This experimental design consisted of two interventions: a specialized online symptoms management program (N=19) and a control intervention based on an online meditation website (N=9). A battery of questionnaires, including measures of multidimensional fatigue, illness-specific symptoms, perceived control, and mindful awareness, were completed before the participants commenced use of the programs and following 8 weeks' use.
Results: Significant differences were found in the areas of chance and powerful others' locus of control, and sleeping difficulties, but not in ME/CFS symptomatology overall.
Conclusion: The specialized online program described in this study warrants further investigation, as it appears to influence perceived control and key ME/CFS symptoms over time.
Keywords: ME/CFS, perceived control, sleep, outcomes, online intervention
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