Exercise and global well-being in community-dwelling adults with fibromyalgia: a systematic review with meta-analysis

BMC Public Health. 2010 Apr 20:10:198. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-10-198.


Background: Exercise has been recommended for improving global-well being in adults with fibromyalgia. However, no meta-analysis has determined the effects of exercise on global well-being using a single instrument and when analyzed separately according to intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses. The purpose of this study was to fill that gap.

Methods: Studies were derived from six electronic sources, cross-referencing from retrieved studies and expert review. Dual selection of randomized controlled exercise training studies published between January 1, 1980 and January 1, 2008 and in which global well-being was assessed using the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) were included. Dual abstraction of data for study, subject and exercise program characteristics as well as assessment of changes in global well-being using the total score from the FIQ was conducted. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane bias assessment tool. Random-effects models and Hedge's standardized effect size (g) were used to pool results according to per-protocol and intention-to-treat analyses.

Results: Of 1,025 studies screened, 7 representing 5 per-protocol and 5 intention-to-treat outcomes in 473 (280 exercise, 193 control) primarily female (99%) participants 18-73 years of age were included. Small, statistically significant improvements in global well-being were observed for per-protocol (g and 95% confidence interval, -0.39, -0.69 to -0.08) and intention-to-treat (-0.34, -0.53 to -0.14) analyses. No statistically significant within-group heterogeneity was found (per-protocol, Qw = 6.04, p = 0.20, I2 = 33.8%; intention-to-treat, Qw = 3.19, p = 0.53, I2 = 0%) and no between-group differences for per-protocol and intention-to-treat outcomes were observed (Qb = 0.07, p = 0.80). Changes were equivalent to improvements of 8.2% for per-protocol analyses and 7.3% for intention-to-treat analyses.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that exercise improves global well-being in community-dwelling women with fibromyalgia. However, additional research on this topic is needed, including research in men as well as optimal exercise programs for improving global well-being in adults.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Male
  • Residence Characteristics