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Fibromyalgia symptoms, physical function, and comorbidity in middle-aged and older adults – Source: Nursing Research, Sep-Oct 2011

  [ 8 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Casey R Shillam, et al. • • September 2, 2011

Background: Multiple studies report on symptoms or physical function in people with fibromyalgia; however, limited studies have been focused on older adults with fibromyalgia.

Objectives: The aims of this study were to describe the occurrence, frequency, severity, and distress of symptoms and to examine differences in symptoms and physical function between a middle-aged and an older group.

Method: Questionnaires were mailed to a random sample of 533 adults with fibromyalgia over 50 years of age, using a large tertiary care database. These questionnaires included an investigator-developed 29-item symptom questionnaire that measured the frequency (1-4), severity (1-4), and distress (0-4) of FM symptoms. The participants also completed the Late Life Function and Disability Instrument and the Charlson Comorbidity Index.


• 53% of the sample reported at least 20 symptoms in the last 7 days.

• The most frequent and severe symptoms were pain, nonrefreshing sleep, fatigue, stiffness, difficulty staying asleep, difficulty falling asleep, and profuse sweating.

• The most distressing symptoms were fear of symptoms worsening, followed by difficulty staying asleep, fatigue, nonrefreshing sleep, and restless legs.

• Participants reported moderate functional limitations (M ± SD = 52.7 ± 9.0).

• Comorbidities were low (1.7 ± 1.5; range = 0-7).

• The middle-aged group [other studies] experienced a greater number of total symptoms (21.4 ± 5.9 vs. 19.3 ± 5.2; p < .01).

Discussion: Middle-aged adults with fibromyalgia were more symptomatic than older adults. Further study is needed to understand the relationship between fibromyalgia symptoms and age and physical function.

Nursing Research, Sep-Oct 2011;60(5):309-17. PMID:21873914, by Shillam CR, Dupree Jones K, Miller L. Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, University of California, Davis, Sacramento; School of Nursing, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, USA.

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