Mind-body therapies for the treatment of fibromyalgia. A systematic review

J Rheumatol. 2000 Dec;27(12):2911-8.


Objective: To assess the effectiveness of mind-body therapy (MBT) for fibromyalgia syndrome (FM) by systematically reviewing randomized/quasirandomized controlled trials using methods recommended by the Cochrane Collaboration.

Methods: Nine electronic databases, 69 conference proceedings, and several citation lists were searched for relevant trials in any language. Eligible trials were scored for methodological quality using a validated instrument. Information on major outcomes was extracted. Insufficient data reporting prevented statistical pooling, therefore a best-evidence synthesis was performed.

Results: Thirteen trials involving 802 subjects were included. Seven trials received a high methodological score. Compared to waiting list/treatment as usual, there is strong evidence that MBT is more effective for self-efficacy, limited evidence for quality of life, inconclusive evidence for all other outcomes. There is limited evidence that MBT is more effective than placebo (for pain and global improvement); inconclusive evidence that MBT is more effective than physiotherapy, psychotherapy, or education/attention control for all outcomes; strong evidence that moderate/high intensity exercise is more effective than MBT (for pain and function). There is moderate evidence that MBT plus exercise (MBT+E) is more effective than waiting list/treatment as usual (for self-efficacy and quality of life); limited evidence that MBT+E is more effective than education/attention control; inconclusive for other outcomes. There is inconclusive evidence for MBT+E vs other active treatments for all outcomes. Longterm within-groups results show greatest benefit for MBT+E.

Conclusion: MBT is more effective for some clinical outcomes compared to waiting list/treatment as usual or placebo. Compared to active treatments, results are largely inconclusive, except for moderate/high intensity exercise, where results favor the latter. Further research needs to focus on the synergistic effects of MBT plus exercise and/or plus antidepressants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Biofeedback, Psychology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical*
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Self Efficacy
  • Treatment Outcome