Can Specific Health-related Memories aid Symptom Management in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME and Asthma?
I. Alexeeva1, M. Martin1
1University of Oxford, UK
Background: A cognitive approach to chronic illness management proposes that biased information processing distorts symptom perception and undermines recovery. Accordingly, a biased memory for health- and illness-related information may lead to negative illness cognitions, maladaptive coping and prolonged symptom suffering. Methods: Web-based study investigated autobiographic recall in CFS/ME (N = 87), Asthma (N = 56), and healthy (N = 60) participants of events when they experienced pain, fatigue, physical activity, and happiness. Participants were also assessed on illness cognitions, activity, and mood. Findings: CFS/ME and asthma participants recalled more specific memories of activity, while controls recalled more overgeneral memories. The specificity of health-related (pain, fatigue, activity) memories predicted more active coping and adaptive cognitions in illness groups. Discussion: The results indicate the importance of memory processing in relation to health- and illness-related information, suggesting overgeneral memories of health-related information may undermine people’s ability to cope in the context of a chronic condition.