Clinical and economic characteristics of patients with fibromyalgia syndrome – Source: Clinical Journal of Pain, May 2010

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Objectives: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic disorder defined by widespread muscle pain and multiple tender points. The objectives of this study were to estimate prevalence of comorbidities, healthcare resources utilization, and costs associated with FMS.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted using data from the Quebec provincial health plans (RAMQ) for a random sample of patients with diagnoses of FMS and a control cohort of patients without FMS, matched for age and gender. Prevalence of comorbidities was estimated.

Healthcare resources consumed by FMS and non-FMS patients were identified in terms of visits to physicians, physician’s interventions, pain-related medications, nonpain-related medications, and hospitalizations.

Results: A total of 16,010 patients with 2 diagnoses of FMS were identified, and control patients were randomly selected with a ratio of 1:1.

• Incidence of most comorbidities was significantly higher in the FMS group and the chronic disease score (3.8 vs. 2.8; ANOVA P <0.001).

• The proportion of patients with at least 1 comorbidity was 87.4% in the FMS group and 60.1% in the control group (chiP<0.001).

• The annual number of visits to physician and physician’s interventions was 25.1 for FMS and 14.8 for non-FMS patients.

• The amount paid by the RAMQ was significantly higher for patients with FMS ($4,065) compared with patients without FMS ($2,766) (ANOVA P<0.001). [Note Quebec’s public health insurance plan provides free medical services and prescription drugs.]

Discussion: Results of this analysis of the RAMQ database illustrate the high prevalence of comorbidities among patients with a diagnosis of FMS and strongly indicate that the economic burden of FMS is substantial.

Source: Clinical Journal of Pain, May 2010 May;26(4):284-90. PMID: 20393262, by Lachaine J, Beauchemin C, Landry PA. Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada. [Email:]

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