Article Summaries for November–December 2022 Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 84, Issue 9 : Psychosomatic Medicine

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Article Summaries for November–December 2022 Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 84, Issue 9

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000001148
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The placebo response is known to contribute to symptom reduction, based on psychobiological mechanisms such as expectations, learning, and patient-provider interaction. Kube et al. examined effects of open-label placebos (OLP) on the severity and frequency of allergic symptoms (N = 74). In the trial, OLP did not significantly reduce the severity of the allergy symptoms. OLP, however, reduced the frequency of allergic symptoms and the degree of impairment related to allergic symptoms compared with treatment as usual. This points to the clinical potential of openly administering placebos to people with allergic symptoms.

Pages 997–1005;

Shorter sleep duration with more disturbances, in addition to greater night-to-night fluctuations in sleep (intraindividual variability; IIV), have been associated with elevated levels of inflammation at the between-person level. Leger et al. examined the within-person relationship between mean levels and IIV of sleep duration and disturbances and C-reactive protein (CRP) in healthy, aging women (N = 179). Within-person increases in the variability of sleep duration were related to higher systemic inflammation, potentially increasing risk for early morbidity and mortality.

Pages 1006–1012;

Experiences of child maltreatment are associated with cardiovascular risk and disease in adulthood, but the mechanisms are poorly understood. Suglia et al. examined retrospectively self-reported exposure to maltreatment in childhood and inflammatory responses to mental stress among adults who recently had a myocardial infarction (MI; N = 227). Stress response among MI survivors who were exposed to abuse early in life varied by sex, with women having less reactivity and men, more. Findings underscore the importance of examining sex as an effect modifier of mental stressors in midlife.

Pages 1013–1020;

Melchior et al. investigated associations between abuse and gastrointestinal (GI) and extraintestinal symptom severity in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and possible mediators of these relationships. They confirmed the association between a history of abuse and higher GI and extraintestinal symptom severity in IBS (N = 186). These associations were mediated by levels of GI-specific anxiety, depressive symptoms, and rectal sensitivity. Findings suggest that abuse history not only increases the risk of IBS but also negatively affects symptom burden.

Pages 1021–1033;

Graham et al. assessed the temporal relationship of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and physical symptoms in non–treatment-seeking members of the military (N = 1871) from before, and up to 4 years after, deployment to the Middle East. More physical symptoms before deployment were associated with higher PTSD symptom severity at 4 months post-deployment. PTSD symptom severity in early post-deployment did not significantly predict the number of physical symptoms 4 years later, but number of physical symptoms in early post deployment predicted an increase in PTSD symptom severity 4 years later. Physical symptoms present before trauma may indicate risk for the development of PTSD, but not vice versa, in members of the military.

Pages 1034–1040;

Benasi et al. evaluated a 4-month Well-Being Therapy (WBT) and lifestyle intervention for adults with Type 2 diabetes and overweight/obesity. WBT is a short-term psychotherapeutic strategy to achieve a state of euthymia or optimal balance among areas of psychological well-being. Compared with a lifestyle-alone intervention, the WBT-lifestyle intervention yielded more improvement in depression, hostility, personal growth, self-reported physical activity, and triglycerides. Well-Being Therapy may be a valuable addition to lifestyle interventions for improving short-term psychological outcomes and promoting long-term healthy changes in physical activity.

Pages 1041–1049;

Lower social connectivity is associated with onset of Type 2 diabetes (T2D), but the role of body weight has been unknown. Atasoy et al. investigated social connectivity and body mass index (BMI) and the risk of incident T2D over 14 years (N = 9448). Compared with their highly socially connected counterparts, people with low social connectivity had a higher rate of incident T2D. This relationship was evident in normal weight but not overweight or obese participants. The link between low social connectivity and increased risk of T2D is substantially stronger in participants with a lower BMI.

Pages 1050–1055;

Using data from the prospective, population-based Lifelines cohort study (N = 65,904), Creed found that more somatic symptoms were associated with more life events and difficulties, more general medical illnesses and functional somatic syndromes, higher neuroticism, and the presence of mental disorders (generalized anxiety, major depression, and panic disorders). A bidirectional relationship between functional somatic syndromes and multiple somatic symptoms was clear. Stress and general medical disorders were stronger correlates of somatic symptoms than mental disorders, suggesting that somatic symptoms are multiply determined and not necessarily a result of mental disorder.

Pages 1056–1066;

General comprehension of disorders related to chronic somatic symptoms (e.g., somatoform disorders, functional somatic syndromes, and somatic symptom disorder) is limited by category definitions in traditional taxonomies. Employing taxometric analyses, Hartmann et al. analyzed the underlying structure of symptoms associated with the somatoform spectrum by employing the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP), which postulates the existence of a multifaceted somatoform spectrum across three independent samples (N = 451 – 549). Qualitatively distinct subgroups within the distribution of chronic somatic symptoms could not be identified. Therefore, continuous representations appeared to best represent the structure of somatic symptoms.

Pages 1067–1076; 10.1097/PSY.0000000000001105

People with somatic symptom disorders (SSD) report higher emotional reactivity and greater emotion regulation (ER) difficulties in daily life. Schnabel et al. conducted two experimental tasks measuring emotion reactivity, ER, and individuals’ choice of strategies. People with SSD (N = 62) reported more emotional reactivity and less use of reappraisal at the trait level compared with people without SSD (N = 61), but they did not significantly differ from people without SSD in task-based emotional reactivity, ER, heart rate variability, or choice of regulatory strategy. Thus, abnormalities in emotional processing associated with SSD might not be attributable to performance deficits per se but with failure to initiate ER. Extensive ER interventions may not necessarily be indicated for patients with SSD.

Pages 1077–1086;

Joustra et al. assessed objective cognitive task performance and subjective cognitive symptoms in individuals whose symptoms are consistent with the diagnostic criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FM) (N = 79,966). Subjective cognitive symptoms and, to a lesser extent, suboptimal cognitive task performance were more prevalent in individuals with CFS or FM compared with individuals with well-defined medical diseases and a control group. These differences remained essentially the same when excluding participants with comorbid mood or anxiety disorders or adjusting for physical symptom severity.

Pages 1087–1095;

A potential biological link between obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been suggested in several studies. Liou et al. found that the hazard ratio (HR) of developing PD among patients with OCD (N = 287,220) was 2.70 [95% confidence interval = 1.74–4.18] compared with matched controls. OCD was found to be an independent risk factor for PD. Greater OCD severity, indicated by more frequent psychiatric visits, increased the likelihood of subsequent PD. The mechanisms underlying the temporal association between OCD and subsequent PD require further investigation.

Pages 1096–1102;

For this issue of the journal, the review process for articles submitted in 2021 was managed by Willem J. Kop, who is now Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Psychosomatic Medicine. Review of articles submitted in 2022 was managed by Editor-in-Chief Suzanne C. Segerstrom, with the exception of Leger et al., on which she was an author. For this article, the review process was managed by Susan A. Everson-Rose, Consulting Associate Editor.

Copyright © 2022 by the American Psychosomatic Society