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Abstract: Person-centered approach to care, teaching, and research in fibromyalgia syndrome: Justification from biopsychosocial perspectives in populations

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Semin Arthritis Rheum 2002 Oct;32(2):71-93

Masi AT, White KP, Pilcher JJ.

Department of Medicine, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, Peoria, IL; University of Western Ontario, St. Joseph's Health Center, London, Ontario, Canada; Department of Psychology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.

OBJECTIVES: To describe complex interactions of multiple factors believed to contribute to fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) at a person-centered level to enhance approaches to care, teaching, and research. The main factors addressed were central nervous system sensory sensitization, autonomic nervous system (ANS) activation, neurohumoral perturbations, and psychosocial and environmental stressors. A person-centered approach is defined as attention to major biopsychosocial issues of affected individuals.

METHODS: Literature on classification, mechanistic pathways, course and outcomes, and management of FMS was reviewed to assess applications of person-centered approaches to care, teaching, and research. Various biopsychosocial influences were considered in relation to the heterogeneous subjective manifestations of this illness, including central hyperalgesia, ANS and other neurohumoral perturbations, functional hyperexcitability, nonrestorative sleep, and psychologic distress.

RESULTS: A person-centered approach to FMS can expand on and strengthen traditional biomedical concepts. Adding such a focus can help to untangle current controversies in the course, outcomes, and treatment of FMS. A person-centered approach can also help in the subgrouping of affected patients for greater specificity in care programs and in improved clinical investigations. In the biomedical model, diverse symptoms of FMS are often addressed separately and apart from their interconnectedness and linkages to the patient's individualized biopsychosocial factors. However, the causes of FMS symptomatology are not likey to be caused by uniform biologic abnormalities across populations.

Rather, the syndrome likely results from personal reactivities to varied multifactorial biopsychosocial influences. Common denominators among individuals may include varying degrees of ANS activation (or personal susceptibility to ANS activation), nonrestorative sleep, negative affectivity, and other central pain sensitization mechanisms, among the pathways reviewed.

CONCLUSIONS: Innovative analytical methodologies will need to be developed to more effectively investigate complex interacting biopsychosocial dynamics at a person-centered level, including qualititative research, and multifactorial and multilevel techniques. Adding person-centered approaches to biopsychosocial concepts of FMS promises to show new physiopathogenetic insights and more effective treatment than current biomedical models alone.

Person-centered approaches enhance patient-physician relationships and help prioritize patients' goals in mutually derived treatment plans. Semin Arthritis Rheum 32:71-93. Copyright 2002, Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.

PMID: 12430098 [PubMed – in process]

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