Master Thesis & Projects


Quinn, T. (2015). Associated benefits of positive affect on cognitive and physical health among adults 50+ with and without fibromyalgia. Department of Psychology. Proquest: 1605287


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain condition most prevalent in women, particularly over the age of 50. Chronic conditions, including pain, affect more than half of adults over 65. Such conditions can contribute to functional limitations that lead to disability, illness, and death. Currently, the U.S. faces a national healthcare crisis that can be attributed to the deteriorating cognitive and physical health of older adults. Exploring ways to promote healthy behaviors that may prevent or delay such conditions should be of paramount importance. Past literature exploring the benefits of positive mood has linked elevated positive affect (PA) with improved memory, physical recovery, and habitual activity engagement. The focus of this study was to identify potential benefits of heightened levels of PA on various domains of cognition, physical performance, and perceived cognitive and physical health. A total of 94 individuals 50+ years of age with and without FM participated in the current investigation. A series of objective and subjective cognitive and physical assessments were administered. Results from the study indicate associated benefits of heightened PA for FM and non-FM individuals. For FM individuals, higher PA was associated with fewer reported problems with concentration and improved working memory performance. For non-FM individuals, higher PA was associated with fewer functional limitations, superior lower extremity strength, and fewer reported troubles with memory and concentration.


 Gutierrez, A. (2015). Effects of Tomando Control de su Salud on health status, symptoms, and self-efficacy among Spanish-speaking Latino adults with chronic widespread pain. Department of Health Science.


Creek, J. (Thesis, Psychology, 2015). Social engagement and episodic memory in older adults.


Cognitive aging in older adults ranges from mild to severe and typically results in attention and memory impairments, especially for episodic memory. Because there is currently no effective treatment or cure for cognitive decline, preventative measures have gained increasing attention. In this field of research, social engagement shows a positive association with cognitive performance; however, the link between social engagement and episodic memory has yet to be thoroughly investigated. Data from the six-year Fibromyalgia (FM) study at California State University, Fullerton were used to determine the association between social engagement and episodic memory. A 10-item questionnaire was used to measure social engagement level and the 10-item word list from the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease (CERAD) was used to assess immediate recall, delayed recall, and delayed recognition. The sample (n = 50) consisted of 13 males and 37 females, ages ranging from 50 to 87 years (M= 66.04, SD = 8.58). Bivariate correlation analyses revealed that there was no significant relationship between CERAD scores and level of social activity, although the relationship between social activity and delayed recall approached significance in 2008 (r = -.27, p = .065). Moreover, a hierarchical regression analysis indicated that social activity in 2014 did not significantly predict CERAD six-year change scores while controlling for baseline social activity level in 2008. The results suggest that the expected positive relationship between social engagement and episodic memory in older adults does not exist.



Fuimara, M. (2014). Cognitive performance subgroups in fibromyalgia. IBSN: 9781321249439Opens in new window


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic condition described as widespread pain and tenderness in at least 11 of the 18 specified tender points in the body (Wolfe, Ross, Anderson, Russell, & Herbert, 1995). Fibromyalgia is believed to be prevalent in approximately 2% to 7% of the population, with a female-to-male diagnosis ratio of approximately 9:1 (Lawrence et al., 2008; Wolfe et al., 1995). Individuals with FM often present an array of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. While such symptoms are discussed, the study focused on the cognitive component of the condition. This study was modeled after the procedures of the Libon and colleagues experiment (2010) on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome but instead examined cognitive performance deficits associated with FM, and the possibility of subgroups existing within this domain. This research used secondary data from a previous study (Jones, Rutledge, & Aquino, 2008) where participants were given a battery of neuropsychological and physical measures. From this secondary data, 68 individuals with FM (M age = 59.5 years; 92.6% women) were included in the analysis. A two-step cluster analysis was conducted to determine if subgroups were found within FM based on participants' cognitive test scores. A multivariate analysis of variance was used to determine if there were any significant differences between the potential subgroups. The results suggested that the treatment of FM is more complex than currently believed because of the varying degrees of cognitive test performance and severities of FM symptomology that exist within the disorder.


Nasir, M. (2014). Effects of continuous wave ultrasound therapy on muscular pain intensity and functionality in people of southern california with fibromyalgia. ISBN: 9781303928529Opens in new window


Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic disease that typically presents with musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and cognitive problems, often with many associated overlapping conditions. This difficult-to-treat condition often requires multiple modalities to control pain symptoms; one such modality is ultrasound therapy. No study has been conducted to investigate the effects of continuous wave ultrasound therapy on FMS. Thus, the purpose of this randomized controlled pilot study was to investigate the effect of six weekly sessions of continuous wave ultrasound therapy on muscle pain and functionality among participants living with FMS. Twelve participants (1 male; 11 females) comprised the intervention group ( n = 8) and placebo group (n = 4). Scores for selected muscle area pain and functionality were compared at baseline and four weeks after the final session. Results revealed that continuous wave ultrasound therapy is effective in reducing muscle pain intensity (p < 0.01) and improving functionality (p < 0.01) among people with FMS. Further studies with larger samples are required to assess long-tenn outcomes of this treatment modality.


Reuben, P. (2014) Hypersensitivity in fibromyalgia. School of Nursing.


Cortez, F. A. (2014). Cognitive and physical functioning in older adults with and without fibromyalgia over time. ISBN: 9781303668166Opens in new window


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain disorder that affects both cognitive and physical functioning. It is a salient issue for older adults, as larger proportions of them will be diagnosed as they age. Cognitive and physical performance as well as a symptom battery in older adults with and without FM were assessed over a four year period using three time points (T1, T2, T3), measured every two years. Measures of cognitive function included tests for the following abilities: orientation, concentration, attention/executive function performance, working memory, psychomotor speed, set-shifting/complex sequencing, verbal fluency, problem solving and cognitive competence. Physical performance tests measured balance, agility, and functional mobility. A repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with Kenward-Rogers (1997) adjustment of the degrees of freedom and a stringent p- value of 0.01 was used to assess mean changes over time. It was expected that FM older adults would perform worse on all measures than their healthy counterparts, controlling for age, education, and body mass index (BMI). There were distinct group differences in physical performance and symptoms; however, the cognitive assessments showed sporadic evidence of group differences. While both groups were anticipated to decline T1 to T2, T2 to T3, and T1 to T3 on the cognitive and physical measures with FM older adults declining at a faster rate, there was inconclusive evidence of change over time for either group.



Aquino, J. K. (2013). Effect of group empowerment drumming on cognitive performance and mood in women with fibromyalgia. ISBN: 9781303928529Opens in new window


Fibromyalgia (FM) is characterized by chronic, widespread pain usually accompanied with mood and cognitive dysfunction. No studies have investigated the effects of group empowerment drumming on cognition, mood, and symptom severity in women with FM. Thus, the purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to determine the effects of a 6-week group empowerment drumming protocol compared to an educational program on cognitive performance and mood states in women with fibromyalgia. A secondary purpose was to determine the effects of the intervention on common symptoms of FM. Twelve women with FM were matched on age, education, and physical activity level and randomly assigned to the drumming intervention group ( Mage = 48.0 years) or the educational control group (M age = 54.2 years). Baseline measures consisted of cognitive performance measures, the Profile of Mood States - Brief, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, and the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR). After six weeks of drumming, Wilcoxon signed-rank tests revealed significant improvements in working memory and attention. Other domains of cognitive performance, mood states, and symptom severity did not significantly improve over time; however, trends suggest positive outcomes after participating in the intervention. Depression/dejection and vigor/activity were found to differ significantly between groups such that those in the drumming group reported better mood states after six weeks. Overall impact, symptom severity, and total FIQR scores were found to be significantly lower for the drumming group than for the educational group. Unexpectedly, the educational group improved significantly more than the drumming group on processing speed, complex scanning, and visual tracking and on magnification of pain. This pilot study demonstrated preliminary results that group empowerment drumming may be better than an educational program at improving certain aspects of cognitive performance, mood states, and overall impact of FM. Mixed results suggest that education and drumming may improve overall quality of life of women with FM. Future studies should attempt to enroll larger samples and assess long-term outcomes following a group empowerment drumming intervention.

Ko, Y. (2013). A comparison of central sensory reception and integration abilities between older adults with and without fibromyalgia. ISBN: 9781303127151Opens in new window


This study aimed to investigate differences in central sensory reception and integration abilities between older adults with and without Fibromyalgia (FMS), and to investigate influence of a secondary cognitive task on postural control in altered sensory environments. The performances of 10 community-residing older adults with FMS ( Mage = 65.49 ± 4.72) were compared with eight age-matched adults without FMS (HC; M age = 66.08 ± 4.83) across two task conditions (single, dual) using the Sensory Organization Test® (SOT). In the dual-task condition, a word generation task was performed with the SOT. Although between-group difference for Composite Equilibrium Score in the single task condition was not statistically significant, a large effect size (Cohen's d = .96) suggested a practical difference between groups in sensory reception and integration abilities. Due to multiple falls occurred in the FMS group in sensory conditions 5 and 6 across both task conditions, single trial Equilibrium Scores (ESs) for sensory conditions 1 through 4 were compared between groups across task conditions. The results revealed a significant three-way interaction for Task, Sensory Condition, and Group ( p = .04), a two-way interaction between Task and Group (p = .03), and a main effect for Sensory Condition (p < .01). Single trial ESs for both groups declined significantly in complex sensory conditions across both task conditions; a greater decline was evident for the FMS group in sensory condition 4 with dual-task. A significantly higher percentages of falls was evident for the FMS group in condition 6 in both task conditions. The FMS group also reported significantly higher levels of fibromyalgia-related symptoms when compared to the HC group ( p < .01). Significant correlations were found between the single trial ESs for sensory conditions 4 through 6 and different symptoms (r s = -0.76 to -0.48). In conclusion, postural stability in the FMS group were most adversely affected when vestibular inputs were the primary source for maintaining postural stability. In addition, the increased intensity of symptoms may be related to reduce postural stability in older adults with FMS, particularly when performed with a cognitive task in complex sensory environments.