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Fibromyalgia Family and Relationship Impact Exploratory Survey


Correspondence: Dawn A. Marcus, Suite 400, Pain Medicine, Centre Commons Building, 5750 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206, USA. Tel: +1 412 953 4797.




Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with impairments in activities of daily living and work disability. Limited data have investigated the impact of fibromyalgia on relationships with family and friends.


This exploratory study was designed to survey a large community sample of adults with fibromyalgia about the impact on the spouse/partner, children and close friends.


A 40-question, multiple-choice survey was made available online for a two-month period, with potential participants recruited through fibromyalgia and migraine community websites. Items included questions about demographics, fibromyalgia symptoms, comorbid mood disturbance and relationship impact, including the Relationship Assessment Scale.


The survey was completed by 6,126 adults who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Using updated diagnostic criteria from the American College of Rheumatology, 91% satisfied the criteria for fibromyalgia (Fibromyalgia Severity score ≥13 and pain ≥3 months). Half of participants endorsed that fibromyalgia had mildly to moderately damaged relationship(s) with their spouse(s)/partner(s) or contributed to a break-up with a spouse or partner. Half of participants scored as not being satisfied with their current spouse/partner relationship, with satisfaction negatively affected by the presence of mood disturbance symptoms and higher fibromyalgia severity. Relationships with children and close friends were also negatively impacted for a substantial minority of participants.


In addition to physical impairments that are well documented among individuals with fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia can result in a substantial negative impact on important relationships with family and close friends. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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