Women's experiences of stigma in relation to chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia

Qual Health Res. 2002 Feb;12(2):148-60. doi: 10.1177/104973230201200202.


Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are characterized by being difficult to diagnose and having an elusive etiology and no clear-cut treatment strategy. The question of whether these illnesses are stigmatizing was investigated through interviews with 25 women with these illnesses. The women experienced stigmatization primarily before receiving a diagnosis, and the diffuse symptomatology associated with the illnesses were significant for stigmatization. Stigma consisted of questioning the veracity, morality, and accuracy of patient symptom descriptions and of psychologizing symptoms. Coping with stigma was also explored and found to comprise both withdrawal and approach strategies, depending on the individual's circumstances and goals.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / psychology*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Patient Selection
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Identification
  • Stereotyping*
  • Sweden
  • Women's Health*