Long-term efficacy of therapy in patients with fibromyalgia: a physical exercise-based program and a cognitive-behavioral approach

Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Apr 15;51(2):184-92. doi: 10.1002/art.20252.


Objective: To analyze the long-term efficacy of 2 interventions for female fibromyalgia (FM) patients: 1) cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and 2) a physical exercise (PE)-based strategy.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, long-term, randomized, parallel clinical trial. The outcome variables are physical activity, aerobic capacity, and results of the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), Short Form 36, Beck Anxiety and Depression Inventory, Chronic Pain Self-Efficacy Scale, and Chronic Pain Coping Inventory. All were measured at baseline, posttreatment, 6 months, and 1 year. The duration of both treatments was 8 weeks.

Results: Some items of the FIQ and some strategies to cope with pain improved significantly in both groups after treatment. All variables measuring functional capacity improved significantly in the PE group, whereas only physical activity of the vertebral column improved in the CBT group. There were no differences in anxiety, depression, and self efficacy after treatment in either group. After 1 year of followup, most of the parameters had returned to baseline values in both groups. However, in the PE group, functional capacity remained significantly better.

Conclusions: PE and CBT improve clinical manifestations in FM patients only for short periods of time. Improvement in self efficacy and physical fitness are not associated with improvement in clinical manifestations.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology*
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Physical Fitness
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Efficacy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome