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VBCR - June 2013, Volume 2, No 3 - Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia

By Rosemary Frei, MSc

Winnipeg, Manitoba—A study on the influence of pain and catastrophizing on quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia has answered some questions and raised others.

The study was presented at the 2013 Canadian Pain Society annual meeting and involved a snapshot of correlations between scores on various health and quality-of-life measures in 229 patients with fibromyalgia who were being treated by clinicians at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal.

Of the 229, 91% were women (mean age, 48 years); of these, 35% of the patients were employed, 31% were unemployed because of fibromyalgia, and 33% were on disability.

Lead investigator Mary-Ann Fitz­charles, MD, a rheumatologist and Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, McGill University Health Centre, and colleagues, found that emotional pain and catastrophizing predict poor quality of life; however, depression and anxiety are not the primary predictors of pain perception.

The only demographic value that correlated with poor scores on the McGill Pain Questionnaire, which measures sensory pain, was unemployment. Being on disability and having a longer duration of fibromyalgia were not associated with poor scores on the McGill Pain Questionnaire.

By contrast, “Different components of pain measurements seem to have distinct relationships with the various features of the global patient situation—that is, emotional pain associates with quality of life, sensory pain associates with physical function, and evaluative pain associates with global well-being,” concluded coinvestigator Neda Faregh, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Dr Faregh added that more research is needed to verify these results and to determine their clinical implications. It may turn out, for example, that psychological interventions targeting emotions and catastrophizing are useful adjuncts to standard pain treatments, she said.

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