Psychosocial factors in fibromyalgia (FM) compared with RA: II. Sexual, physical, & emotional abuse & neglect

OBJECTIVE: Two recent reports have found associations between

fibromyalgia and sexual victimization, but had methodologic

characteristics that limited their interpretation.


compared 36 patients with fibromyalgia and 33 patients with

rheumatoid arthritis by using structured interviews for

sexual, physical, and emotional victimization histories, as

well as dimensional self-report measures of victimization


RESULTS: Compared with the patients with rheumatoid

arthritis, those with fibromyalgia had significantly higher

lifetime prevalence rates of all forms of victimization, both

adult and childhood, as well as combinations of adult and

childhood trauma. Although childhood maltreatment was found to

be a general risk factor for fibromyalgia, particular forms of

maltreatment (eg, sexual abuse per se) did not have specific

effects. Experiences of physical assault in adulthood,

however, showed a strong and specific relationship with

unexplained pain. Trauma severity was correlated significantly

with measures of physical disability, psychiatric distress,

illness adjustment, personality, and quality of sleep in

patients with fibromyalgia but not in those with rheumatoid


CONCLUSIONS: Fibromyalgia seems to be associated

with increased risk of victimization, particularly adult

physical abuse. Sexual, physical, and emotional trauma may be

important factors in the development and maintenance of this

disorder and its associated disability in many patients.

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