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Fall experiences of persons with fibromyalgia over 6 months


D.N. Rutledge: e-mail:


rutledge d.n., martinez a., traska t.k. & rose d.j. (2012) Fall experiences of persons with fibromyalgia over 6 months. Journal of Advanced Nursing69(2), 435–448. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2012.06026.x


Aims.  To describe circumstances and consequences of falls occurring among persons with fibromyalgia who had recent falls.

Background.  Fibromyalgia is a common widespread pain condition that has been linked to increased fall-risk. No published research described experiences of falling in persons with fibromyalgia. Prior to development of fall-risk reduction interventions, it is essential to understand the context of falls and fall experiences in persons with fibromyalgia.

Design.  Descriptive longitudinal study.

Methods.  The study took place during 2009; data were collected via fall diaries and interviews in 18 US women ages 21–69 years.

Results.  Over 6 months, 17 of 18 participants fell or had a near-fall. For the 15 women with 6-month fall-prevalence data, median number of falls was 2, with 3 near-falls. Most fall experiences contained intrinsic and extrinsic contributory factors. Participants reported engaging in various activities prior to falls/near-falls. A substantial minority (32–48%) experienced severe symptoms (pain, fatigue, stiffness) at the time. Most falls/near-falls occurred in homes during the day; one resulted in injury. Themes that were identified included the following: always being careful or generally cautious; fear of losing control of one’s body, especially related to balance; desire to continue activities counterbalanced with frustration at not being able to because of fear of falling; perception of having become clumsy.

Conclusions.  Nurses caring for persons with fibromyalgia should assess for potential fall-risk factors and offer plans for individualized fall-prevention strategies.