Therapeutic approaches to fibromyalgia syndrome in the United Kingdom: a survey of occupational therapists and physical therapists

Eur J Pain. 2003;7(2):173-80. doi: 10.1016/S1090-3801(02)00095-2.


Background and purpose: This study sought information from occupational therapists (OTs) and physical therapists (PTs) working in rheumatology in the UK on their usual methods of treatment and management of patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).

Methods: Data were gathered by self-completion questionnaire on: work setting; referrals of FMS patients; usual treatment objectives; assessment and treatment approaches; perceived responsiveness of patients; and other perceptions of the management of FMS. Most data were in the form of frequency counts, with some ordinal scales and open responses.

Results: Responses were obtained from 142 therapists (71% response rate), of whom 47 OTs and 39 PTs managed patients with FMS. The foremost therapeutic objective was increased functional ability for OTs, and increased exercise tolerance and general fitness for PTs. Pain reduction or management was rated as the second objective for both groups. An endurance-based exercise program and energy conservation techniques were the most frequently utilized interventions. Patients with FMS were thought to be 'moderately responsive' to physical management. Predictors of outcome were considered to be largely psychosocial, rather than physical, in nature.

Conclusion: These data provide a preliminary profile of current practice in the management of FMS among UK therapists and indicate certain differences in approach between OTs and PTs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology
  • Fibromyalgia / rehabilitation*
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Palliative Care
  • Physical Endurance
  • Physical Fitness
  • Physical Therapy Specialty*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom