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Most fibromyalgia patients open to mind-body dimension of illness

  [ 14 votes ]   [ 4 Comments ] • July 29, 2011

Openness to psychological explanations and treatment among people with Fibromyalgia versus Rheumatoid Arthritis – Source: Psychology and Health, Jul 26, 2011

By Naomi J Gryfe Saperia and Leora C Swartzman

The classic perspective in the psychosomatic literature is that patients with medically unexplained syndromes do not acknowledge psychologically-based causes for their conditions and will not engage in psychological treatments.

These assumptions were tested by contrasting the illness models and reported treatment experiences of individuals with fibromyalgia (FM), a syndrome with a currently unknown organic origin, with those of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a 'legitimate' (i.e., organic) condition.

Method: 193 patients with FM and 176 with RA completed measures assessing their views about the causes of their condition, the treatments they had used and their judged effectiveness.

Results: Contrary to prediction, compared to patients with RA, patients with FM were more likely to endorse psychological causes for their condition and reported having used more psychological management approaches.

Moreover, patients with FM considered psychological approaches to be more effective than narcotics.


These findings indicate that:

• Patients with FM do not react defensively to the implication of psychogenic causes.

• Rather, as a group, they tend to acknowledge both the psychosocial influences on and the effectiveness of psychological management approaches for their condition.

Source: Psychology and Health, Jul 26, 2011. PMID: 21787248, Gryfe Saperia NJ, Swartzman LC. Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.

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Article Comments Post a Comment

FM and psychological causation
Posted by: IanH
Aug 1, 2011
Such studies should not form conclusions about cause from treatment programs.[bad science]. An attempt to establish the conditions or factors related to the onset of the widespread pain should also have been done. Such as physical trauma, spinal injury, neurological pathology such as post operative or post herpetic neuropathy and of course ME. (especially as many people with ME fit the criteria for FM) The study also implies that if a patient is amenable to psychological therapy and that therapy is more helpful to them than narcotics then the cause of their widespread pain is psychological. Narcotics are not known to be very helpful in fibromyalgia - so such a comparison is a straw-man. Try comparing such techniques to Lyrica or LDN. In addition try combinations too such as pharmacological + cognitive versus each alone. In my experience people with FM are very open to anything which might help them and most find cognitive self help approaches have efficacy - as they should because cognitive approaches help reduce/manage all pain.
Reply Reply

fibro is real
Posted by: nanakay
Aug 5, 2011
Thank you for your comment. You pretty much nailed it-


mind and body connection....
Posted by: Pewaukee
Aug 2, 2011
I belong to a fibromyalgia support group. I can tell you that anyone with the disease will do anything for relief from the symptoms of fibromyalgia

. The connection between the mind and body is well documented in thousands off places. I am not saying that anyone can just wish this disease away, but I do think we can mitigate the damage to our lives with our minds.


Response to Ian
Posted by: JennyY.
Sep 15, 2011
I disagree that this article is "bad science". I have read through the whole article from my library website and I think the conclusions you drew were unfounded. The authors do not imply that just because people acknowledge psychological causes that they their condition is only because of psychological reasons. Also, they never say that just because someone used a psychological treatment that they feel their condition is psychological. Psychological management for pain is becoming increasingly accepted as a method of pain management. Therefore, I think this is a good article advancing what we know about fibro and advocating for our treatment.
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