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Fibromyalgia Can Have a Substantial Negative Impact on Relationships with Family and Friends

  [ 10 votes ]   [ 3 Comments ] • November 27, 2012


Fibromyalgia Family and Relationship Impact Exploratory Survey
– Source: Musculoskeletal Care, November 21, 2012. [Epub ahead of print]

By Dawn A. Marcus, MD, Karen Lee Richards, et al.

[Note: During April and May 2012, ProHealth invited fibromyalgia patients to participate in a Fibromyalgia and Family Impact Survey.  On Nov. 21, 2012, the journal Musculoskeletal Care published the results of the survey in a fee-based online article.  Following is the abstract of the study.  Watch for an in-depth article about the survey results in the December 2012 issue of ProHealth's FM HealthWatch e-newsletter.] 


Background: Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with impairments in activities of daily living and work disability. Limited data have investigated the impact of fibromyalgia on relationships with family and friends.

Objectives: This exploratory study was designed to survey a large community sample of adults with fibromyalgia about the impact on the spouse/partner, children and close friends.

Methods: A 40-question, multiple-choice survey was made available online for a two-month period, with potential participants recruited through fibromyalgia and migraine community websites. Items included questions about demographics, fibromyalgia symptoms, comorbid mood disturbance and relationship impact, including the Relationship Assessment Scale.

Results: The survey was completed by 6,126 adults who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Using updated diagnostic criteria from the American College of Rheumatology, 91% satisfied the criteria for fibromyalgia (Fibromyalgia Severity score ?13 and pain ?3 months).

  • Half of participants endorsed that fibromyalgia had mildly to moderately damaged relationship(s) with their spouse(s)/partner(s) or contributed to a break-up with a spouse or partner.

  • Half of participants scored as not being satisfied with their current spouse/partner relationship, with satisfaction negatively affected by the presence of mood disturbance symptoms and higher fibromyalgia severity.

  • Relationships with children and close friends were also negatively impacted for a substantial minority of participants.

Conclusions: In addition to physical impairments that are well documented among individuals with fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia can result in a substantial negative impact on important relationships with family and close friends.

Source: Musculoskeletal Care, November 21, 2012. [Epub ahead of print]. By Dawn A. Marcus, MD, Karen Lee Richards, Janet F. Chambers, Amrita Bhowmick, MPH.

Please Discuss This Article:   Post a Comment 

FM and it's impact on families.
Posted by: Robhab2
Nov 28, 2012
This study confirmed the obvious. In my case I found that it didn't take long for my wife to forget the "in sickness and in health" part of our wedding vows. I became a liability so she was gone after thirty years of marriage. When my employer of twenty years found out, they took "white-out" and changed my employment records from a long term employee to a new hire. They then promptly fired me.
One other insight. I strongly suspect that the data greatly understates how much negative impact really exists. I have found that most people are too embarrassed to admit just how much they dislike how the FM person in their lives has been a burden. To atone for this they soft peddle the answers.
Reply Reply

Posted by: ProHealth
Dec 3, 2012
We're so sorry to hear about that. We have some resources in our library that may be of help...

Facing Lack of Family Support: Will You Be a Teacher, Ninja, or Escapee?

Coping Corner - How to Describe My Fatigue?

In our store, we also have a very helpful DVD:


Fibro is ruining my marriage (per my husband)
Posted by: koko1983
Dec 2, 2012
I was diagnosed with Fibro 10 months ago. I have noticed that my once loving, caring, and sensitive husband has done a complete 180. I truly feel hatred from him. In his eyes Fibro isnt real, I'm just a drug addict, a faker, lazy, and have financially ruined "us"! I need help getting my husband realize and understand that fibro, endo, degenerative disc disease, and chronic pain are real. I don't want to lose my husband..any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. The only option I can think of is to get off my meds...and thats absolutely terrifying to me.


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