Women with fibromyalgia significantly differed from pain-free counterparts in their ability to control their thoughts, emotions and physical reactions, according to study results.
Researchers in Australia studied 98 women with fibromyalgia and 35 matched healthy controls. Both groups answered the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, Profile of Mood States, Perceived Control of Internal States Scale, Perceived Stress Scale and Mastery Scale. Differences were measured using bivariate correlations, multiple regression analysis, one-way analysis of variance and t tests.
Significant differences in control, pain, perceived stress, fatigue, confusion and mood disturbances (all P<.001) were found between groups, with all symptom characteristics being higher in the fibromyalgia (FM) patients. The FM group reported anxiety and depression levels that were moderate in severity but rated sleep and fatigue higher. Pain was not rated as high as fatigue, and stress was rated significantly greater by patients with FM. In regression analysis among the FM patients, the best predictor of stress was combined internal and external control (53% of variance). External control (48.5%) contributed more than internal control (32%) to stress.
“Control appears to be an ‘upstream’ process in FM mechanisms and outcomes amenable to positive intervention,” the researchers concluded. “As control influences healthy behaviors, the application of self-management principles, and the biopsychosocial factors that contribute to the development and exacerbation of central sensitization, it is a key factor in FM that warrants further research.”