Proposed New Self-Reported Screening Tool Identifies Likely Fibromyalgia Patients

Editor’s Note:  The original diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, developed by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990, required a physician to conduct a hands-on tender point exam.  A revised ACR diagnostic criteria, proposed in 2010, eliminated the tender point exam and added symptoms other than just pain, such as fatigue and cognitive functioning difficulties. 

While based on the revised ACR criteria, the screening tool evaluated in this study is briefer and can be completed by the patient.  This screening tool is not intended to provide a definitive diagnosis of FM but rather to identify patients who are likely to have FM as opposed to another chronic pain condition.  A clinical evaluation by a physician would still be necessary to confirm a fibromyalgia diagnosis and rule out other potential conditions that might have symptoms similar to FM. 

Brief, Self-Report Fibromyalgia Screener Evaluated in a Sample of Chronic Pain Patients.

By Dawn A. Marcus, MD, Cheryl Bernstein, MD, and Kara L. Albrecht, PAC


OBJECTIVE: To validate a self-report fibromyalgia screener in a chronic pain population.

DESIGN: Adults with chronic pain were evaluated with a six-item, self-report fibromyalgia screening tool based on revised American College of Rheumatology (ACR) fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria, with fibromyalgia diagnosed when patients experienced chronic pain and scored ?13 on the ACR fibromyalgia symptom severity scale. Patients were independently assigned clinical diagnoses by treating clinicians.

SETTING: University-based, tertiary care pain clinic.

SUBJECTS: Three hundred thirty-seven mixed chronic pain patients.

RESULTS: Agreement between the clinical diagnosis and screener diagnosis was good (P?CONCLUSION: A self-administered, brief fibromyalgia screening questionnaire can effectively identify chronic pain patients who will likely have clinical fibromyalgia.

Source:  Pain Medicine, April 11, 2013. By Dawn A. Marcus, MD, Cheryl Bernstein, MD, and Kara L. Albrecht, PAC. Department of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

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