Work disability and health system utilization in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome

J Clin Rheumatol. 2007 Aug;13(4):199-201. doi: 10.1097/RHU.0b013e31812e6b0c.


Background: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) usually affects women of working age. We expect significant work-related disability in association with FMS. Because of the variety of symptoms, these patients often have multiple visits to their general practitioners with many referrals and visits to various specialists.

Objective: To investigate the impact of fibromyalgia on working disability and health system utilization.

Method: This was a case-control study comparing fibromyalgia outpatient attendees with controls attending nonrheumatology outpatient clinics in Eastern Scotland. One hundred thirty-six patients with FMS and 152 age- and sex-matched controls completed a postal questionnaire about their working history and attendance at various outpatient clinics and general practitioners' visits.

Results: Significant number of patients with FMS (46.8%) reported that they lost their job because of the disease, compared with only 14.1% of controls (P < 0.00001). There was no significant difference in health system utilization between patients with FMS and other clinic controls in a subset of patients surveyed.

Conclusion: Fibromyalgia is significantly associated with reports of working disability. Reasons for this decreased employment need to be investigated. The impact on the health system appeared to be the same as for patients with known specific organic diseases with regard to the number of general practitioner or hospital visits.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / epidemiology*
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires