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First Large Population Analysis Puts Incidence of Fibromyalgia in New Light

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By Editor • • July 3, 2006

The first-ever large population-based analysis of U.S. Fibromyalgia incidence, just released, indicated an occurrence rate of about 4.2 percent.

This is based on a review of claims records for a national health insurance database including a “large, stable” population averaging 62,000 enrollees over the period 1997 through 2002. The new large-population review, conducted by a research team at the University of Utah Department of Family and Environmental Health, identified 2,595 cases of Fibromyalgia in the overall enrollee population.

Their calculations also provide new, more broadly based statistics on:

Fibromyalgia incidence by gender. Females in the database were 1.64 times more likely than the males to have physician-diagnosed Fibromyalgia. That’s a mix of about 62 percent female and 38 percent male; a “substantially” less-marked difference than many small population-based studies had reported.

Strong associations with other, coexisting conditions. Enrollees diagnosed with Fibromyalgia were also significantly more likely than the 59,400-some other health plan enrollees to have one or more of seven coexisting conditions (“comorbidities”). As a group, based on International Classification of Diseases ( ICD-9-CM) diagnostic coding, the Fibromyalgia patients were anywhere from 2.14 times to 7.05 times more likely to have depression, anxiety, headache, irritable bowel syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

This report, titled “The Incidence of Fibromyalgia and Its Associated Comorbidities: A Population Based Retrospective Cohort Study Based on International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision Codes,” by Peter T. Weir, MD, et al., was published in the June 2006 issue of the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, at

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