Objective: To identify factors of importance for women with fibromyalgia (FM) to continue working despite the limitations imposed by the symptoms.
Methods: A mail questionnaire with questions regarding social background, symptoms, sickness benefits, work situation, work conditions and adjustments, opinions regarding own work ability, and satisfaction with the situation was sent to 218 consecutive women seen at a university pain or rheumatology clinic. Answers were obtained from 176 women.
Results: Pain, poor quality sleep, abnormal tiredness, muscle stiffness, and increased pain after muscle exertion were frequently reported symptoms. Fifty percent of the women were employed, 15% full-time. Twenty-three percent reported FM as the reason for not working. The work situation had been changed for 58% of the working women, and 80% counted on being able to continue working.
Conclusion: Work disability is a serious concern in FM, and the majority of women with FM have limitations in their ability to work. Our results indicate that individual adjustments in the work situation need to be made and that women who have found a level matching their ability may continue to work and find it satisfactory. Early intervention in the work situation is recommended.