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Education programmes for fibromyalgia (FM) patients: description & evaluation

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