A firm theoretical basis for patient education in rheumatic disease
care has been built up over the past 10 to 15 years. Education
in self-management has enabled patients to control symptoms
and become partners in care with their health providers.
Education for fibromyalgia patients has come to the foreground
during the last 5 years as health professionals have come to
understand the syndrome better and recognize the role that
stress plays in the exacerbation of symptoms. A few controlled
trials of various strategies, such as aerobic conditioning and
cognitive-behavioural techniques, have been reported recently.
All have shown significant benefits to patients with
fibromyalgia. Only one controlled trial has studied the
effects of a self-management education programme alone. The
results of this programme were positive. Self-efficacy and
life quality were enhanced. This programme and an uncontrolled
programme that integrated many strategies have shown some of
the first positive long-term indications that patients who are
treated intensively for even a short time can continue to
improve as they practice self-management techniques. There is
still a need for further documentation of non-drug treatment
strategies and especially further research into who is helped
by which strategies, the optimal length of time for a
programme, and the need for ongoing treatment.
Burckhardt CS, Bjelle A