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Work. 2014;48(2):155-64. doi: 10.3233/WOR-131607.

Symptoms of subordinated importance in fibromyalgia when differentiating working from non-working women.

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Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
Department of Rehabilitation, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden.



The aim was to identify differences in self-reported symptoms among working (W) and non-working (NW) women, and to determine the most important biopsychosocial variables in differentiating one group from the other.


A questionnaire was mailed to 524 members of a local chapter of the Swedish Rheumatology Association. A total of 362 persons responded (69%); 96% of which were women. Women older than 64 years and all men were excluded. The final study group consisted of 95 W, and 227 NW women. The questionnaire included data on demographics, employment, support, exercise, daily activities and symptoms. Data were analysed using univariate statistics and a partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA).


The results showed that 41% of the W and 42% of the NW women were/had been employed in service,care or business. The NW women reported a significantly higher severity of symptoms compared with the W women. The most important variable when differentiating the W from the NW women was social support from colleagues and employers.


To change prevailing attitudes and values towards persons with a work disability, a process of active intervention involving staff is needed. Educating employers as to how a disability may influence a work situation, and the importance of social support, can be improved.


Biopsychosocial model; comorbidity; daily activities; employment

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