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Glob Health Action. 2016 Dec 19;9:31967. doi: 10.3402/gha.v9.31967. eCollection 2016.

The social construction of fibromyalgia as a health problem from the perspective of policies, professionals, and patients.

Author information

Department and Faculty of Nursing and Physiotherapy, University of Lleida, Lleida, Spain.
Public Health Research Group of the University of Alicante, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain;


This article is a review of the PhD thesis written by Erica Briones-Vozmediano, entitled, 'The social construction of fibromyalgia as a health problem from the perspective of policies, professionals, and patients'. The findings show that in Spain, the fact that fibromyalgia (FM) lacks recognition still remains: in policies, in the clinical and professional fields, and in the patients' social circle. These three spheres have an influence on how this disease is constructed on a social level. International health policy has not yet taken steps to reflect the emergence of this recently diagnosed disease. The care for patients suffering from FM, who are mainly women, leads to frustration among the healthcare professionals and desperation among the patients themselves, as a resolutive treatment for the disease is not existing. Patients show resistance at assuming the sick role. They want to carry on undertaking their daily activities, both in the public sphere and in the private one. Roles involving the gendered division of labour were found to follow a rigid pattern, both prior to and subsequent to the disease, as the causes that led to frustration for men or women differ according to activities that are socially assigned to them. In practice, FM is conceived exclusively as a women's health problem, which may result in a gender-biased patient healthcare attention. It is recommended that the implementation of specific policies for FM which could resolve this evident shortcoming should take place. To draw attention on a social level to certain illnesses considered to be attributed to women, such as FM, is of utmost importance, in order to allow the patients to be socially recognised as suffering a real and disabling disease.


fibromyalgia; gender perspective; health policies; health professionals; patients; qualitative study

Conflict of interest statement

and funding The author declares no conflict of interest. This work was funded by the Centre of Women’s Studies at the University of Alicante (Spain) and Gender COST-Action Scientific Mission.

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