March 22, 2016
1 min read

Disability in fibromyalgia patients linked to symptom severity, physically demanding jobs

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About one-third of Canadian patients with fibromyalgia had disability status, which was associated with symptom severity, increased use of medications and more physically demanding occupations, according to recently published research.

Researchers recruited 248 patients with fibromyalgia into a registry beginning in July 2005. The mean patient age was 47.9 years. The mean disease duration was 10.8 years, and 91% of participants were women.

Mary Ann Fitzcharles

Of the participants, 90 were employed during the time of study; 81 were not gainfully employed for reasons other than fibromyalgia; and 77 received disability payments. Overall, 30.8% of patients were disabled. Disabled and unemployed patients tended to be older than employed patients, but few other between-group demographics were identified. Disabled patients were more likely to have worked in manual or service professions compared with clerical or professional positions, including the education and health fields. Smokers were more common among the disabled group, but cannabis use was not.

Patients in the disabled group more frequently used opioids or tranquilizers and had higher medication counts compared with patients who were employed or unemployed for other reasons. Investigators found antidepressants were used by 61% of disabled patients, 64% of unemployed patients and by 44% of patients who were employed.

Patient Global Assessment (PtGA), Pain Disability Index, McGill Pain Questionnaire and Health Assessment Questionnaire scores and pain on the VAS were higher among disabled patients. Older age and PtGA were associated with greater likelihood of disability, while longer pain duration and higher level of education were associated with lower odds for disability following multivariate analysis. – by Shirley Pulawski

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.