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Clinical Neuroscience

MAY 30, 2020

Alexithymia is associated with cognitive impairment in patients with Parkinson’s disease

SENGUL Yildizhan, KOCAK Müge, CORAKCI Zeynep, SENGUL Serdar Hakan, USTUN Ismet

Cognitive dysfunction (CD) is a common non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Alexithy­mia is a still poorly understood neuropsychiatric feature of PD. Cognitive impairment (especially visuospatial dysfunction and executive dysfunction) and alexithymia share com­mon pathology of neuroanatomical structures. We hypo­thesized that there must be a correlation between CD and alexithymia levels considering this relationship of neuroanatomy. Objective – The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between alexithymia and neurocognitive function in patients with PD. Thirty-five patients with PD were included in this study. The Toronto Alexithymia Scale–20 (TAS-20), Geriatric Depression Inventory (GDI) and a detailed neuropsychological evaluation were performed. Higher TAS-20 scores were negatively correlated with Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) similarities test score (r =-0.71, p value 0.02), clock drawing test (CDT) scores (r=-0.72, p=0.02) and verbal fluency (VF) (r=-0.77, p<0.01). Difficulty identifying feelings subscale score was negatively correlated with CDT scores (r=-0.74, p=0.02), VF scores (r=-0.66, p=0.04), visual memory immediate recall (r=-0.74, p=0.01). VF scores were also correlated with difficulty describing feelings (DDF) scores (r=-0.66, p=0.04). There was a reverse relationship bet­ween WAIS similarities and DDF scores (r=-0.70, p=0.02), and externally oriented-thinking (r=-0.77,p<0.01). Executive function Z score was correlated with the mean TAS-20 score (r=-62, p=0.03) and DDF subscale score (r=-0.70, p=0.01) Alexithymia was found to be associated with poorer performance on visuospatial and executive function test results. We also found that alexithymia was significantly correlated with depressive symptoms. Presence of alexithymia should therefore warn the clinicians for co-existing CD.

Clinical Neuroscience

NOVEMBER 30, 2019

A clinical study of an online educational programme for chronic pain patients

GALAMBOS Wellingerné Krisztina, SZOK Délia, CSABAI Márta

Background - The research of alexithymia - the inability to express or understand emotions - has recently become of great importance in clinical practice, mainly in the field of doctor-patient and psychologist patient communication. Many studies have proven the correlation between alexithymia and the development of functional somatic symptoms, i.e. somatization. Purpose - The aim of this clinical study was to examine the emotion-recognition and emotion communication patterns of patients suffering from chronic pain (e.g., headache, low back pain, arthralgia, neuropathy). Moreover, the participants received access to the Hungarian adaptation of a new international online educational site (www.retrainpain.org) dealing with pain management. Methods - Data were collected from the Headache and Chronic Pain Outpatient Clinic, Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Szeged, Hungary (tertiary care - Group 1) and from a general practice in district 2, Budapest, Hungary (primary care - Group 2) from March, 2017 to April, 2018. Patients received a test package containing a pain-specific questionnaire, then the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), and the shortened Hungarian version of the WHO-Well-being (WBI-5) had to be completed. After filling out the questionnaires, all patients got access to the Hungarian adaptation of the www.retrainpain.org website. Results - Altogether 92 patients participated in the study (Group 1 n=50; Group 2 n=42). Based on the TAS-20 re­sults, 35 patients reached a pathological score (≥60 points), which indicates the diagnosis of alexithymia. The mean TAS-score was lower in Group 2 (primary care) than in Group 1 (tertiary care) (p=0.003). The DERS disclosed pathological results in 19 cases (p=0.009). As regards the www.retrainpain.org chapters, we received feedback only from 25 out of 92 patients (27%) (Group 1 n=20; Group 2 n=5). Conclusions - Although the examined patients have been suffering from different chronic pain syndromes for years and 50% of them confirmed that symptoms placed at least moderate or heavy burden on their everyday life, the available educational programme was studied only by a smaller proportion of patients than expected. Additionally, those who surveyed the Hungarian adaptation of the www.retrainpain.org website were mainly patients from primary care (Group 2), in spite of the fact that patients from specialized medical care (Group 1) had worse subjective conditions. Our future objective is to extend our database with follow-up results and to improve patients’ response willingness.