Psychological Flexibility in the Framework of Emotion Regulation Systems in the Fibromyalgia population
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The aim of this study was to explore Psychological flexibility (PF) as a potential buffer in fibromyalgia. A questionnaire was developed guided by Gilbert’s theory of emotion regulation where participants had to rate the importance of items describing threats, soothers and drives. It was hypothesised that dimensions fitting the concept of PF would arise and a threat dimension that represents mental distress. Further, it was hypothesised that PF would act as a buffer between symptom severity and emotional well-being and when PF was high and mental distress was high, PF would also act as a buffer against reduced emotional well-being. 402 individuals that self-reported to have fibromyalgia completed all measurements. Indeed, a threat dimension describing mental distress was found and also three dimensions that fitted the concept of PF, that were labelled general PF, soother PF and drive PF. General PF indeed was indicated to act as a buffer between symptom severity and emotional well-being and between mental distress and emotional well-being. Soother PF indicated to act as a buffer only when symptom severity was high and as a buffer between mental distress and emotional well-being. The study highlights the importance of PF for emotional well-being of individuals with fibromyalgia, especially when symptom severity or mental distress is high. It also provides a quantitative measurement for Gilbert’s theory and refined the conceptualization of PF by assessment of soother and drive dimensions of PF. Research should examine in prospective research which PF components are relevant for fibromyalgia in improving well-being.