Stress and the waxing and waning of Tourette's syndrome symptoms

Cheryl Elise Palter-Zadek, Pace University


This study explored the relationship between stress, the ability to cope, and the waxing and waning of Tourette's Syndrome symptomatology. The aim of this study was to obtain a fuller understanding of the impact of stress on the severity of Tourette's Syndrome symptoms. Although there has been much clinical speculation regarding the relationship between stress and the waxing and waning of Tourette's Syndrome symptoms, there were no empirical studies previously conducted. Forty-one Tourette's Syndrome children between the ages of 5 and 15 and their parents were studied. The subjects were drawn from the Pediatric Neurology Clinic at a major urban teaching hospital as well as from the National Tourette's Syndrome Association (NTSA). Subjects were identified by DSM-III-R (1987) diagnostic criteria. Only subjects who were not currently taking medication to control their Tourette's Symptoms were studied. The independent variable, Severity of Stress, was measured in two ways--in an overall stress measure using the "What Do You Think?" (WDYD) scale by E. Jorgensen, and on a daily stress measure in which both the parents and children independently rated their perception of the severity of child symptoms for that day. Weekday and weekend ratings were taken. The hypotheses predicted a positive relationship between Severity of Stress and Severity of Symptoms. The hypotheses also predicted a negative relationship between Coping Ability and Severity of Symptoms. The hypotheses were tested using a Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient. The hypotheses concerning Severity of Symptoms and Severity of Stress were only partially confirmed. There were no statistically significant correlations between the overall (WDYD) stress measures and the overall (TSGS) and daily severity of symptom measures. However, there were statistically significant correlations at the.01 probability level or higher between the daily Severity of Stress measures and the daily Severity of Symptom measures. That is, both parents and children independently reported the relationships, and these relationships were replicated using weekday and weekend data. The hypotheses relating to coping scores were not confirmed. Results indicate that a special scale to define and measure coping skills for a Tourette population needs to be developed and suggests future research in this area. The importance and clinical implications of the relationship between stress and severity of symptoms on a daily basis were also recognized. The intent of this study was to provide insights and to facilitate medical and psychological treatment that would be most effective in helping children with Tourette's Syndrome. The study underscores the need for adequate coping and stress management skills in this population.

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Recommended Citation

Palter-Zadek, Cheryl Elise, "Stress and the waxing and waning of Tourette's syndrome symptoms" (1991). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9132122.



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