Abstracts

Theme 3 | Rare diseases

A Biopsychological Approach in Small Fiber Neuropathy: Insights from Focus Groups. 

Aysun Damci


Aysun Damci MD1,2,3, Janneke G.J. Hoeijmakers, MD, PhD1,2, Jeroen de Jong3,4, PhD, Ingemar S.J. Merkies1,6 MD, PhD, Catharina G. Faber, MD, PhD1,2, Jeanine A.M.C.F. Verbunt, MD, PhD3,4,5, Mariëlle E.J.B. Goossens, PhD3,4

1MHeNS, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, The Netherlands, 2Department of Neurology, Maastricht University Medical Center+, Maastricht, The Netherlands, 3Care and Public Health Research Institute, Maastricht university, The Netherlands, 4Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Center+, Maastricht, The Netherlands, 5Adelante zorggroep, Center of Rehabilitation Medicine, Hoensbroek, The Netherlands, 6St. Elisabeth Hospital, Willemstad, Curacao.

Background
Small fiber neuropathy (SFN) is characterized by severe chronic neuropathic pain and autonomic dysfunction (1). Unfortunately, current pharmacological treatment is insufficient (2,3). Chronic (neuropathic) pain is influenced by psychological factors, such as cognition, mood, disability and future perspectives. In various chronic pain conditions, patients report catastrophic thoughts about disease course and pain related disability. Catastrophizing, pain-related fear and disability influence quality of life (4-8). Insight into the psychological factors that play a role in SFN is needed. With this knowledge a targeted psychological therapy could be developed. The aim of the present study is to gain in-depth information about the psychological factors and other factors influencing health-related quality of life, such as cognition, mood, disability and future perspectives in patients with SFN. 

Methods
Four semi-structured qualitative focus group interviews were conducted with SFN patients (N = 15). Interviews were transcribed, coded and analyzed. 

Results
Results show that patients tend to think in terms of catastrophes and based on these negative expectations, have started to adapt their daily lives to the pain. As a result, more limitations and less quality of life are experienced. However, the way in which limitations, negative thoughts and feelings are handled is different. Fear, especially for the future, was the most striking psychological topic. 

Conclusion
Given the results, it can be concluded that a treatment that considers both biological, psychological and social components is indicated. This will be taken into consideration in future research.

Keywords
Pain, neuropathy, qualitative research

References 
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The School for Mental Health and Neuroscience (MHeNs) strives to advance our understanding of brain-behaviour relationships by using an approach integrating various disciplines in neuro- and behavioural science, medicine, and the life sciences more widely. MHeNs performs high-impact mental health and neuroscience research and educates master's students and PhD researchers. MHeNs performs translational research, meaning practical collaboration between researchers in the lab and in the hospital. MHeNs is one of six graduate schools of the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML) aligned to the Maastricht University Medical Centre+ (MUMC+).