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BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016 Nov 8;17(1):457.

A pilot study of health and wellness coaching for fibromyalgia.

Author information

Internal Medicine and Molecular Biochemistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA.
Division of Immunology/Rheumatology, William Davis Medical Research Center, Wexner Medical Center, The Ohio State University, 480 Medical Center Drive, Columbus, OH, 43210-1228, USA.
Nestlé-Purina, 3916 Pettis Road, Saint Joseph, 64503, MO, USA.
Food Science and Technology, College of Food Agriculture and Environmental Science, The Ohio State University, 110 Parker Food Science and Technology Building, 2015 Fyffe Road, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA.
Wellcoaches Corporation, Wellesley, USA.
Institute of Coaching, McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate, Belmont, USA.
National Consortium for Credentialing Health & Wellness Coaches, San Diego, USA.
Exercise & Sport Sciences, 323 Center for Health Sciences, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, 14850, USA.
Veterinary Clinical Sciences, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Columbus, USA.



The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that a health and wellness coaching (HWC)-based intervention for fibromyalgia (FM) would result in sustained improvements in health and quality of life, and reductions in health care utilization.


Nine female subjects meeting American College of Rheumatology criteria for a diagnosis of primary FM were studied. The HWC protocol had two components, which were delivered telephonically over a twelve-month period. First, each patient met individually with a coach during the 12 month study at the patient's preference of schedule and frequency (Range:22-32 × 45-min sessions). Coaches were health professionals trained in health and wellness coaching tasks, knowledge, and skills. Second, each patient participated in bimonthly (first six months) and monthly (second six months) group classes on self-coaching strategies during the 12 month study. Prior to the intervention, and after 6 months and 12 months of coaching, the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR) was used to measure health and quality of life, and the Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form (BPI) was used to measure pain intensity and interference with function. Total and rheumatology-related health encounters were documented using electronic medical records. Data were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA.


All nine patients finished the HWC protocol. FIQR scores improved by 35 % (P = 0.001). BPI scores decreased by 32 % overall (P = 0.006), 31 % for severity (P = 0.02), and 44 % for interference (P = 0.006). Health care utilization declined by 86 % (P = 0.006) for total and 78 % (P < 0.0001) for rheumatology-related encounters.


The HWC program added to standard FM therapy produced clinically significant improvements in quality of life measures (FIQR), pain (BPI), and marked reductions in health care utilization. Such improvements do not typically occur spontaneously in FM patients, suggesting that HWC deserves further consideration as an intervention for FM.


Fibromyalgia; Health behavior intervention; Healthcare costs; Motivational interviewing; Pain management

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