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Abstract

Objective. To determine the intermediate and long-term outcomes of fibromyalgia in patients seen in rheumatology centers in which there is special interest in the syndrome.

Methods. We conducted a longitudinal outcome study by mailed comprehensive Health Assessment Questionnaire administered every 6 months to 538 patients, from 6 rheumatology centers, whose median duration of disease at first assessment was 7.8 years. The final assessment took place after 7 years. In addition, there was study followup on 85 patients who had attended the Wichita center for > 10 years.

Results. Although functional disability worsened slightly and health satisfaction improved slightly, measures of pain, global severity, fatigue, sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression, and health status were markedly abnormal at study initiation and were essentially unchanged over the study period. Correlations between first and last assessment values were as high as r = 0.82. For some variables, abnormalities were 3 times greater at one center compared with another.

Conclusion. Patients with established fibromyalgia, seen in rheumatology centers in which there a special interest in the disease and followed up for as long as 7 years, have markedly abnormal scores for pain, functional disability, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and psychological status, and these values do not change substantially over time. Half the patients are dissatisfied with their health, and 59% rate their health as fair or poor. There are marked differences in disease severity among the various centers, but <14% of the variance in outcomes can be explained by demographic or center factors. Values at the first assessment are predictive of final values.