A phenomenological study of fibromyalgia (FM). Patient perspectives

OBJECTIVE: To describe the way in which the fibromyalgia patients

understand the meaning of their illness.

DESIGN: Qualitative,

empirical phenomenological psychological method.

SETTING: A

collaborative transdisciplinary interview study of patients’

described experiences of living with fibromyalgia. No

therapeutic relationships existed between patients and

researchers.

SUBJECTS: Eighteen patients with fibromyalgia

were interviewed. Ten of the 18 taped interviews were

transcribed and analysed.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Patients’

narratives, described experiences of living with fibromyalgia.

RESULTS: The patients were intensively involved in efforts to

get their self-images as ill persons confirmed. Their

experience was that the disease started dramatically, with a

variety of capriciously appearing symptoms of unknown cause

that gave rise to the suffering. The fibromyalgia patients

seemed to develop strategies to cope with a precarious

self-image and find ways to manage the thought of what the

future would bring.

CONCLUSION: The meaning structures

revealed in the patients’ ways of describing their experiences

of living with fibromyalgia seemed to be partially constituted

by their efforts to stand forth as afflicted with a disease,

which could be a way to help them to manage the demands that

they placed upon themselves.

Hellstrom O, Bullington J, Karlsson G, Lindqvist P, Mattsson B

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