OBJECTIVE: To examine the frequency and predictors of reported
complementary treatment use in a sample of 111 subjects with
fibromyalgia (FM). The perspective was adopted that
complementary treatment use represents a form of medical
help-seeking that may be subject to a variety of biological,
social, and psychological influences.
METHODS: Patients with
FM were recruited from community and university based clinics
and support groups throughout the greater San Diego,
California, area. Patients participated in a comprehensive
evaluation of their pain, psychological functioning, and
disability prior to their potential involvement in a clinical
trial designed to help them copy with their condition. They
were also administered a rheumatological evaluation to verify
their FM and a 20 item questionnaire to assess their use of
complementary treatment strategies specifically for coping
RESULTS: Ninety-eight percent of the sample reported
the use of at least one strategy over the preceding 6 months.
Exercise, bed rest, vitamins, heat treatment, and
spirituality/praying were the most frequently used strategies
by subjects on a daily basis. Multiple regression analysis
revealed that lower age, higher pain, and higher disability
were uniquely associated with higher complementary treatment
use. The Pain Rating Index, a measure of the subjective
severity of pain from the McGill Pain Questionnaire, proved
highly significant in explaining the relationship between pain
and questionnaire scores. Pain coping strategies and quality
of social support did not predict complementary treatment use.
CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that poor clinical status is
a major predictor of complementary treatment use in FM.
However, longitudinal research is recommended to clarify the
relationship between clinical status and help-seeking patterns
in patients with FM over time.