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Arthritis Care Res. 1998 Apr;11(2):102-15.

Sexual and physical abuse in women with fibromyalgia: association with outpatient health care utilization and pain medication usage.

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Department of Psychology (Medical Psychology Program), University of Alabama at Birmingham 35294, USA.



To evaluate the relationship between sexual and/or physical abuse and health care usage in patients with fibromyalgia (FM) and identify variables that may influence this relationship.


We assessed history of sexual/physical abuse, health care utilization, and medication usage, as well as related variables in 75 women with FM using standardized questionnaires, structured interviews, and laboratory pain perception tasks.


Fifty-seven percent of FM patients reported a history of sexual/physical abuse. Compared to non-abused patients, abused patients reported significantly greater utilization of outpatient health care services for problems other than FM and greater use of medications for pain (P < or = 0.025). Consistent with our expectations, abused patients also were characterized by significantly greater pain, fatigue, functional disability, and stress, as well as by a tendency to label dolorimeter stimuli as painful regardless of their intensities (P < or = 0.05). Additional analyses suggested that the high frequency of sexual/physical abuse in our patients was associated primarily with seeking health care for chronic pain rather than the FM syndrome itself or genetic factors.


There is an association in FM patients between sexual/physical abuse and increased use of outpatient health care services and medications for pain. This association may be influenced by clinical symptoms, functional disability, psychiatric disorders, stress, and abnormal pain perception. The relationships among these variables should be further tested in prospective, population-based studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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