Chronic fatigue syndrome: holistic understanding and the impact of social support on distress

Renouf, Alysha (2020) Chronic fatigue syndrome: holistic understanding and the impact of social support on distress. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Background: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating illness that results in many functional impairments, with individuals who experience it being unable to work, and even becoming bedridden for years at a time. However, there continues to be confusion regarding the population of individuals with CFS, the etiology, and the treatment options. Study One: In Study One, I attained a profile of the sociodemographic characteristics of adults with CFS in a Canadian sample using the Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health 2012 (Statistics Canada, 2013). Individuals with CFS were more likely to be female, 45-64, living alone, unmarried, unemployed, low income, have psychiatric diagnoses and have a history of childhood maltreatment than people without CFS. Study Two: I re-examined the data from Study One to determine the level of social support and distress in individuals with CFS. Further, I explored the predictive ability of specific social support domains on distress with individuals with CFS, women with CFS, and men with CFS, and of overall social support after controlling for the significant demographic and mental health variables from Study One. For women with CFS, social integration and guidance support uniquely predicted distress; for men with CFS, social integration uniquely predicted distress. After controlling demographic and mental health variables, social support was found to predict 10.4% of the variance in distress. Discussion: These findings are integrated to explore the possible etiological implications of childhood maltreatment, the importance of a holistic biopsychosocial approach to illness for this population, and how such an approach may provide greater treatment opportunities for individuals with CFS.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 15092
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 72-95).
Keywords: Chronic fatigue syndrome, Myalgic encephalomyelitis, Social Support, Distress, Biopsychosocial, Canadian Community Health Survey
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: October 2020
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Chronic fatigue syndrome--Treatment; Chronic fatigue syndrome--Social aspects; Holistic medicine; Distress (Psychology)--Treatment--Government policy.

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