The following is a summary of “Perceived illness consequences predict the long-term course of handicap in patients with vertigo and dizziness beyond vestibular abnormality,” published in the September 2023 issue of the Psychosomatic Research by Wolf et al.
One-third of the population will experience vertigo and dizziness (VD) during their lifetime. Patients with VD are frequently profoundly disabled. A recent study found that illness perceptions, affective and behavioral responses to illness, and VD-related disability at 3-month follow-up were associated. However, no research has examined this correlation for over six months. This study investigated the long-term associations between cognitive, affective, and behavioral variables and VD-related handicaps. In a longitudinal naturalistic study, n = 161 patients with VD were examined at baseline, after 6 months, and after 12 months.
Using self-report questionnaires, participants underwent neurologic and psychiatric examinations and comprehensive psychological evaluations. During the research period, handicaps resulting from VD decreased significantly (Cohen’s d = 0.35, P<.001). Cognitive, affective, and behavioral variables remained unchanged throughout the study period. Both vestibular testing and diagnosis type were unrelated to changes in VD-related handicaps. Changes in perceived illness consequences (ß =.265, P<.001), depression (ß =.257, P<.001), and anxiety (ß =.206, P =.008) significantly predicted the development of VD-related handicap over 12 months, whereas the presence versus absence of vestibular abnormality did not.
The researchers’ findings extend the notion that cognitive and emotional factors, such as perceived illness consequences, depression, and anxiety, are associated with the long-term course of VD-related disability and may provide therapeutic targets to enhance long-term outcomes in patients with VD.