Psychological factors, specific lifestyles and environmental stressors may influence etiopathogenesis and evolution of chronic diseases. We investigate the association between Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) and psychological dimensions such as personality traits, defence mechanisms, and Alexithymia, i.e. deficits of emotional awareness with inability to give a name to emotional states. We analyzed a survey of 100 patients with IBD and a control group of 66 healthy individuals. The survey involved filling out clinical and anamnestic forms and administering five psychological tests. These were then analyzed by using a network representation of the system by considering it as a bipartite network in which elements of one set are the 166 individuals, while the elements of the other set are the outcome of the survey. We then run an unsupervised community detection algorithm providing a partition of the 166 participants into clusters. That allowed us to determine a statistically significant association between psychological factors and IBD. We find clusters of patients characterized by high neuroticism, alexithymia, impulsivity and severe physical conditions and being of female gender. We therefore hypothesize that in a population of alexithymic patients, females are inclined to develop psychosomatic diseases like IBD while males might eventually develop behavioral disorders.
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|
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