The Relationship between Touch Deprivation and Transdiagnostic Symptoms in Psychiatric Populations
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Many people experienced touch deprivation during the COVID-19 pandemic because of social distancing, meaning they did not receive the amount of touch they would like to receive. Notably, psychiatric patients may be at a general greater risk to be touch deprived because of social isolation. Several transdiagnostic symptoms may be related to touch deprivation, namely self- esteem, emotion dysregulation, and intolerance of uncertainty. This study investigated if touch deprivation was predictive of these transdiagnostic symptoms in psychiatric patients and if there was a difference in touch deprivation between patients and controls. The expectation was that a higher amount of touch deprivation would be predictive of a lower self-esteem, a higher intolerance of uncertainty, and a higher amount of emotion dysregulation in both psychiatric patients and controls. Furthermore, the relationship between touch deprivation and transdiagnostic symptoms was expected to be stronger in psychiatric patients compared to controls. The results indicated that, even though group membership was predictive of transdiagnostic symptoms, touch deprivation was not. It follows no interaction was found between group membership and touch deprivation on transdiagnostic symptoms. Furthermore, no difference was found in touch deprivation between patients and controls. Possible explanations for the absence of the expected results include the small sample size and the questionnaires used. So, continued research on touch deprivation in psychiatric patients is vital to increase our knowledge of the role of touch in relation to psychiatric symptoms, which may hold a place in future treatments.