Background: Previous studies have documented an elevated frequency of depressive symptoms and disorders in fibromyalgia, but have not examined the association between this comorbidity and occupational status. The purpose of this study was to describe these epidemiological associations using a national probability sample.
Methods: Data from iteration 1.1 of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) were used. The CCHS 1.1 was a large-scale national general health survey. The prevalence of major depression in subjects reporting that they had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia by a health professional was estimated, and then stratified by demographic variables. Logistic regression models predicting labour force participation were also examined.
Results: The annual prevalence of major depression was three times higher in subjects with fibromyalgia: 22.2% (95% CI 19.4 - 24.9), than in those without this condition: 7.2% (95% CI 7.0 - 7.4). The association persisted despite stratification for demographic variables. Logistic regression models predicting labour force participation indicated that both conditions had an independent (negative) effect on labour force participation.
Conclusion: Fibromyalgia and major depression commonly co-occur and may be related to each other at a pathophysiological level. However, each syndrome is independently and negatively associated with labour force participation. A strength of this study is that it was conducted in a large probability sample from the general population. The main limitations are its cross-sectional nature, and its reliance on self-reported diagnoses of fibromyalgia.