Rationale: In this study, information was gathered from five disciplines on their usual management methods for fibromyalgia (FM) in order to asses whether treatment regimens have changed in the Netherlands during a period of 6 years. In addition, insight was gained into the therapeutic motives of the professionals.
Method: A questionnaire was sent to a sample of 150 persons per discipline: general practitioners (GPs), rheumatologists (RMTs), rehabilitation specialists (RS), physical therapists and psychologists.
Results: The overall response rate was 40.4%. The referral behaviour changed (significantly), especially between GPs and RMTs. An increased choice for aerobic exercise (RS: P = 0.023) and multidisciplinary therapy (RMT: P = 0.046) was found. RMTs and RS showed decreased medication prescribing (RMT: P = 0.024). Preferences of treatment for FM differ per discipline. The choice is principally made on the basis of subjective, professional group-bound factors. Particularly for GPs, dynamic patient factors are an important motive in the management of FM.
Conclusions: Despite the fact that most changes found are in conformity with the literature, the absolute application percentages of recommended therapies are still very low. The differences in practice between the several disciplines seem explicable on the basis of the factors that have a prominent role in the choice of a therapy for FM. This study underlines the need for further research into methods and processes of the management of FM, and their clinical effectiveness. An effective way of dissemination, especially of guidelines, is essential.