Objectives: Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. Its prevalence is estimated to be at 3.4% in women and 0.5% in men. It is a major cause of morbidity. Our objective was to evaluate, using a self-questionnaire sent by mail, the level of knowledge of French physicians, general practitioners, and rheumatologists on fibromyalgia and to analyse their therapeutic approach.
Methods: The demographic characteristics of a sample of general practitioners and rheumatologists were compared to those of the overall data available. This comparison demonstrated the good representativeness of our sample.
Results: Fibromyalgia was considered as a disease by 23% of rheumatologists and 33% of general practitioners. While on average, each rheumatologist followed 30 fibromyalgia patients, each general practitioner followed 6.1 patients (i.e., 2 to 5% of their practice's patient base). Among rheumatologists, 6.4% made no distinction between this disease and depression vs. 13.1% of general practitioners. The diagnosis of fibromyalgia was made based on tenderness that occurs in precise, localized areas of the body (trigger points) by 94% of rheumatologists and 79.1% of general practitioners. Of general practitioners and rheumatologists, 93.7% and 73.7% respectively, have not received any medical school training on fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
Conclusion: Given the lack of medical school training and continuing professional education concerning fibromyalgia (rare use of pain rating scales, confusion in the classification of rheumatic diseases), there is an urgent need to initiate an explicit teaching effort on chronic pain, and on fibromyalgia in particular.