Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of multidisciplinary rehabilitation in the treatment of fibromyalgia in comparison to standard medical care.
Methods: Seventy-nine men and women were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The intervention group consisted of a rheumatologist and physical therapist intake and discharge, 18 group supervised exercise therapy sessions, 2 group pain and stress management lectures, 1 group education lecture, 1 group dietary lecture, and 2 massage therapy sessions. The control group consisted of standard medical care with the patients' family physician. Outcome measures included self-perceived health status, pain-related disability, average pain intensity, depressed mood, days in pain, hours in pain, prescription and nonprescription medication usage, and work status. Outcomes were measured at the end of the 6-week intervention and at 15-month follow-up.
Results: Thirty-five out of 43 patients from the intervention group and 36 out of 36 patients from the control group completed the study. There were no statistically significant differences between the 2 groups prior to intervention. Intention-to-treat analysis revealed that the intervention group, in comparison to the control group, experienced statistically significant changes at intervention completion in self-perceived health status, average pain intensity, pain related disability, depressed mood, days in pain, and hours in pain, but no significant differences in nonprescription drug use, prescription drug use, or work status. At 15 months, all health outcomes retained their significance except health status. Nonprescription and prescription drug use demonstrated significant reductions at 15 months. Binary logistic regression indicated that long-term changes in Pain Disability Index were influenced by long-term exercise adherence and income status.
Conclusions: Positive health-related outcomes in this mostly unresponsive condition can be obtained with a low-cost, group multidisciplinary intervention in a community-based, nonclinical setting.