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Use of and belief in benefits of therapy and self management interventions in fibromyalgia

Hammond, Alison



Background: Patient education standards recommend that identifying clients’ perceptions of effective treatment can assist in programme development [1]. This survey investigated the use of 12 strategies commonly recommended in systematic reviews and self-help texts for Fibromyalgia (FM).
Methods: A postal survey was conducted with 248 people with FM identified from Rheumatology clinic records at a large district general hospital. Frequency of use (either prescribed or tried for themselves) was requested, as well as the extent of belief in their effectiveness: made worse, no different, some or much benefit.
Results: 145 people replied (58%): 123 women and 22 men. Average self reported time since FM diagnosis was 2.74 yrs (S.D. 2.67) and symptom duration 6.2 yrs (S.D. 5.98). Average pain VAS score was 71.32 (S.D. 23). Self-help material was a more common information source than health professionals. Exercise (from PT or self-planned) was the commonest strategy although on average only half found this beneficial. Other strategies had been provided to or tried by less than a third of respondents. Pain management programmes were rarely available and considered of help only by a third.
Conclusions: People with FM considered education about the condition and self management, exercise, relaxation and meditation as approaches of most benefit. This supports systematic reviews suggesting education and exercise are key components of patient education programmes. However, there is less evidence for the effectiveness of relaxation and meditation. Belief responses were very varied highlighting the need for flexible provision to meet individual needs. It was surprising that common chronic pain interventions, such as pain management programmes, TENS and acupuncture, were considered less beneficial by many. Apart from exercise there was generally little intervention provision available for
people with FM. At least half were using some self-management methods. Usage rates and effectiveness beliefs for 12 interventions for FM
Strategy Usage Some/much benefit
PT prescribed exercise 71 (49%) 33 (46%)
Self-help books/internet sites 70 (48%) 42 (60%)
Self planned exercise programme 67 (46%) 37 (55%)
Hydrotherapy 54 (37%) 30 (56%)
Acupuncture 49 (34%) 15 (31%)
FM Education (health professionals) 46 (32%) 31 (67%)
Relaxation self-help tapes 45 (31%) 23 (51%)
TENS 42 (29%) 14 (33%)
Relaxation training 25 (17%) 16 (64%)
Meditation 22 (15%) 14 (64%)
Pain management programme 21 (14%) 8 (38%)
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) 4 (3%) 2 (50%)
1. Burckhardt CS et al. Arthritis Care and Research 1994;7:1–4.


Hammond, A. (2006). Use of and belief in benefits of therapy and self management interventions in fibromyalgia. Rheumatology, 45(Suppl 1), i187.

Journal Article Type Extended Abstract
Publication Date Apr 1, 2006
Deposit Date Oct 24, 2023
Journal Rheumatology
Print ISSN 1462-0324
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue Suppl 1
Article Number 502
Pages i187