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Low- and high-anxious hypermobile Ehlers–Danlos syndrome patients: comparison of psychosocial and health variables

Abstract

Despite the frequent co-ocurrence of hypermobile Ehler–Danlos syndrome (hEDS) and pathological anxiety, little is known about the psychosocial and health implications of such comorbidity. Our aim was to explore the association between high levels of anxiety and psychosocial (catastrophizing, kinesiophobia, somatosensory amplification, social support and functioning), health (pain, fatigue, BMI, tobacco/alcohol use, depression, diagnosis delay, general health), and sociodemographic factors in people with hEDS. In this cross-sectional study, 80 hEDS patients were divided into two groups according to self-reported anxiety levels: low and high. Psychosocial, sociodemographic and health variables were compared between the groups. Forty-one participants reported a high level of anxiety (51.2%). No differences were found in the sociodemographic variables between high-anxious and low-anxious patients. The percentage of participants with severe fatigue and high depressive symptomatology was significantly higher in the high-anxious group (80.5 vs 56.4; 26.8 vs 12.8%, respectively). High-anxious hEDS patients also showed significantly higher levels of pain catastrophizing, somatosensory amplification as well as a poorer social functioning and general health. Multivariate analyses showed that somatosensory amplification, pain catastrophizing and poor social functioning are variables that increase the probability of belonging to the high-anxious group. Despite limitations, this first study comparing high-anxious versus low-anxious hEDS patients with respect to health aspects, highlight the importance of considering the psychosocial factors (many susceptible to modification), to improve the adjustment to this chronic condition and provide support to those affected through a biopsychosocial approach.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank all the participants of this study, Luis Cunha, Anne Gompel and Sabine Pommeret for their time and valuable collaboration.

Funding

This research did not receive any Specific Grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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C. Baeza-Velasco designed and directed the study, collected the data, performed the statistical analysis and wrote the manuscript. C. Bourdon, L. Montalescot and C. de Cazotte collected the data, and agreed with the last version of the manuscript. G. Pailhez and A. Bulbena were involved in the interpretation of the data and agreed with the last version of the manuscript. C. Hamonet saw all the patients for physical assessment and diagnosis, and agreed with the last version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Carolina Baeza-Velasco.

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Baeza-Velasco, C., Bourdon, C., Montalescot, L. et al. Low- and high-anxious hypermobile Ehlers–Danlos syndrome patients: comparison of psychosocial and health variables. Rheumatol Int 38, 871–878 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00296-018-4003-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00296-018-4003-7

Keywords

  • Ehlers–Danlos syndrome
  • Joint hypermobility syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Catastrophizing
  • Somatosensory amplification
  • Social functioning
  • Fatigue
  • Depression