Social network characteristics in fibromyalgia (FM) or rheumatoid arthritis

PURPOSE. To describe trends in the personal social network
characteristics of the fibromyalgia patients compared with the
network of patients with another chronic disorder such as
rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

METHODS. A structured interview was
applied to 10 fibromyalgia patients and 10 matched RA

RESULTS. The networks of the 10 fibromyalgia and 10
RA patients were comparable in most respects, namely: the
small number of intimate friends, the reliance for support on
the spouse and the physician, and the relative lack of new
social contacts. Furthermore, the fibromyalgia networks were
closed networks within a small geographic area. These networks
lacked initiative to establish and maintainrelations, and
can hardly fulfill the patients' psychosocial needs.

CONCLUSION. Based on small numbers, the study provides
some evidence that social networks of patients with
fibromyalgia are more restricted than those of RA patients.
Further studies should include larger numbers of patients to
clarify cause and effect relationships and to suggest new
directions in the treatment of chronic disorders such as

Bolwijn PH, van Santen-Hoeufft MH, Baars HM, van der Linden S

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