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Couple Perceptions of Fibromyalgia Symptoms: The Role of Communication.

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By Karen S. Lyons, et al. • • August 7, 2013


The objectives of the current study were to

  1. describe fibromyalgia patient-spouse incongruence regarding patient pain, fatigue, and physical function and

  2. examine the associations of individual and interpersonal factors with patient-spouse incongruence.

Two hundred four fibromyalgia patients and their co-residing partners rated the patient's symptoms and function.

  • Multilevel modeling revealed that spouses, on average, rated patient fatigue significantly lower than patients.

  • Couple incongruence was not significantly different from zero, on average, for pain severity, interference, or physical function.

  • However, there was significant variability across couples in how they rated the severity of symptoms and function, and how much incongruence existed within couples.

  • Controlling for individual factors, patient and spouse reports of communication problems were significantly associated with levels of couple incongruence regarding patient fatigue and physical function, albeit in opposing directions.

  • Across couples, incongruence was high when patients rated communication problems as high; incongruence was low when spouses rated communication problems as high.

  • An important within-couple interaction was found for pain interference suggesting couples who are similar on level of communication problems experience low incongruence;

  • those with disparate ratings of communication problems experience high incongruence.

Findings suggest the important roles of spouse response and the patient's perception of how well the couple is communicating. Couple-level interventions targeting communication or other interpersonal factors may help to decrease incongruence and lead to better patient outcomes.

Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Source: Pain, July 18, 2013. By Karen S.  Lyons, Kim D.  Jones, Robert M.  Bennett, Shirin O.  Hiatt, Aline G.  Sayer. School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR.

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