The current review describes how the health status profile of people with fibromyalgia (FM) compares to that of people in the general population and patients with other health conditions.
A review of 37 studies of FM that measured health status with the 36-item Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) or the 12-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12).
Studies performed worldwide showed that FM groups were significantly more impaired than people in the general population on all eight health status domains assessed. These domains include physical functioning, role functioning difficulties caused by physical problems, bodily pain, general health, vitality (energy vs. fatigue), social functioning, role functioning difficulties caused by emotional problems and mental health. FM groups had mental health summary scores that fell 1 standard deviation (SD) below the general population mean, and physical health summary scores that fell 2 SD below the general population mean. FM groups also had a poorer overall health status compared to those with other specific pain conditions. FM groups had similar or significantly lower (poorer) physical and mental health status scores compared to those with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, myofacial pain syndrome, primary Sjögren's syndrome and others. FM groups scored significantly lower than the pain condition groups mentioned above on domains of bodily pain and vitality. Health status impairments in pain and vitality are consistent with core features of FM.
People with FM had an overall health status burden that was greater in magnitude compared to people with other specific pain conditions that are widely accepted as impairing.
Studies in this review were identified through a search of electronic databases (MEDLINE: 1990–2006; EMBASE: 1990–2006). Search terms included: ‘fibromyalgia’, ‘health status’, ‘quality of life’, ‘SF-36’ and ‘SF-12’. Reference lists from published articles were also searched. Studies were selected if they were published in the English language between 1990 and (March) 2006 and assessed health status with a validated version of the SF-36 or the SF-12.
Message for the Clinic
Although FM is a controversial construct, studies performed worldwide showed that the health status profile of people with FM was remarkably consistent. People with FM had significant impairments in both mental and physical health status domains. People with FM had a poorer overall health status than people with specific pain conditions that are widely accepted as impairing.