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J Rheumatol. 1997 Oct;24(10):2008-13.

Psychosocial factors associated with complementary treatment use in fibromyalgia.

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California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP), San Diego 92121-3725, USA.



To examine the frequency and predictors of reported complementary treatment use in a sample of 111 subjects with fibromyalgia (FM). The perspective was adopted that complementary treatment use represents a form of medical help-seeking that may be subject to a variety of biological, social, and psychological influences.


Patients with FM were recruited from community and university based clinics and support groups throughout the greater San Diego, California, area. Patients participated in a comprehensive evaluation of their pain, psychological functioning, and disability prior to their potential involvement in a clinical trial designed to help them copy with their condition. They were also administered a rheumatological evaluation to verify their FM and a 20 item questionnaire to assess their use of complementary treatment strategies specifically for coping with FM.


Ninety-eight percent of the sample reported the use of at least one strategy over the preceding 6 months. Exercise, bed rest, vitamins, heat treatment, and spirituality/praying were the most frequently used strategies by subjects on a daily basis. Multiple regression analysis revealed that lower age, higher pain, and higher disability were uniquely associated with higher complementary treatment use. The Pain Rating Index, a measure of the subjective severity of pain from the McGill Pain Questionnaire, proved highly significant in explaining the relationship between pain and questionnaire scores. Pain coping strategies and quality of social support did not predict complementary treatment use.


The findings suggest that poor clinical status is a major predictor of complementary treatment use in FM. However, longitudinal research is recommended to clarify the relationship between clinical status and help-seeking patterns in patients with FM over time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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