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Psychosocial factors in fibromyalgia (FM) compared with RA: II. Sexual, physical, & emotional abuse & neglect

  [ 60 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Walker EA, Keegan D, Gardner G, Sullivan M, Bernstein D, Katon WJ • • November 8, 1997

OBJECTIVE: Two recent reports have found associations between
fibromyalgia and sexual victimization, but had methodologic
characteristics that limited their interpretation.

compared 36 patients with fibromyalgia and 33 patients with
rheumatoid arthritis by using structured interviews for
sexual, physical, and emotional victimization histories, as
well as dimensional self-report measures of victimization

RESULTS: Compared with the patients with rheumatoid
arthritis, those with fibromyalgia had significantly higher
lifetime prevalence rates of all forms of victimization, both
adult and childhood, as well as combinations of adult and
childhood trauma. Although childhood maltreatment was found to
be a general risk factor for fibromyalgia, particular forms of
maltreatment (eg, sexual abuse per se) did not have specific
effects. Experiences of physical assault in adulthood,
however, showed a strong and specific relationship with
unexplained pain. Trauma severity was correlated significantly
with measures of physical disability, psychiatric distress,
illness adjustment, personality, and quality of sleep in
patients with fibromyalgia but not in those with rheumatoid

CONCLUSIONS: Fibromyalgia seems to be associated
with increased risk of victimization, particularly adult
physical abuse. Sexual, physical, and emotional trauma may be
important factors in the development and maintenance of this
disorder and its associated disability in many patients.

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