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Reumatismo. 2012 Jul 19;64(3):151-7. doi: 10.4081/reumatismo.2012.151.

Effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome: a meta-analytic literature review.

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  • 1Sezione di Biologia e Genetica, Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche e Biotecnologie, Universit√† degli Studi di Brescia, Italy.


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic disorder caused by a dysfunction of central nervous system sensitization. This syndrome is characterized by widespread pain and diffuse tenderness, but often also presents fatigue, sleep disturbances, and a whole range of symptoms such as morning stiffness, decreased physical function and dyscognition. FM is usually treated with pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments. The non-pharmacological interventions include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), physiotherapy, acupuncture and patient education programs. In order to evaluate the efficacy of CBT and compare it with other non-pharmacological treatments, we performed a review of the meta-analytic literature. We evaluated the methodological quality of publications found by following the recommendations of the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) statement. Data showed that CBT does not provide better results than other non-pharmacological treatments on outcomes of pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance and quality of life, at either a short or long-term evaluation. On the contrary, CBT seems to be more effective on symptoms of depression for a short period, whereas it considerably improves the pain self-management and reduces the number of visits to the doctor. The data currently available indicate that cost-effectiveness studies could help us to understand whether the reduction in the number of visits to the doctor could balance the cost of CBT to the health public system.

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