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Psychiatric diagnoses in patients with fibromyalgia (FM) are related to health care-seeking behavior rather than to illness

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By Aaron LA, Bradley LA, Alarcon GS, Alexander RW, Triana-Alexander M, Martin MY, Alberts KR • www.ProHealth.com • March 10, 1997


OBJECTIVE: To compare the frequency of lifetime psychiatric
disorders among 3 groups of subjects: patients with
fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) from a tertiary care setting,
community residents with FMS who had not sought medical care
for their FMS symptoms ("FMS nonpatients"), and healthy
controls.

METHODS: We used the Computerized Diagnostic
Interview Schedule to assess lifetime psychiatric diagnoses,
as well as the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression
scale and the Trait Anxiety Inventory to assess current
psychological distress, among 64 patients with FMS, 28 FMS
nonpatients, and 23 healthy individuals.

RESULTS: Patients
with FMS, relative to FMS nonpatients and healthy controls,
were characterized by a significantly greater number of
lifetime psychiatric diagnoses (P = 0.002). Nonpatients did
not differ from controls in psychiatric diagnoses. Patients
also exhibited higher psychological distress levels than
nonpatients, and nonpatients showed greater distress than
controls. Differences in psychological distress between
patients and nonpatients were eliminated after controlling for
pain threshold and fatigue ratings.

CONCLUSION: Psychiatric
disorders are not intrinsically related to the FMS syndrome.
Instead, multiple lifetime psychiatric diagnoses may
contribute to the decision to seek medical care for FMS in
tertiary care settings.




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