Mortality in Fibromyalgia: A Study of 8,186 Patients Over Thirty-Five Years

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2011 Jan;63(1):94-101. doi: 10.1002/acr.20301. Epub 2010 Jul 26.


Objective: To determine if mortality is increased among patients diagnosed as having fibromyalgia.

Methods: We studied 8,186 fibromyalgia patients seen between 1974 and 2009 in 3 settings: all fibromyalgia patients in a clinical practice, patients participating in the US National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases (NDB), and patients invited to participate in the NDB who refused participation. Internal controls included 10,087 patients with osteoarthritis. Deaths were determined by multiple source communication, and all patients were also screened in the US National Death Index (NDI). We calculated standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) based on age- and sex-stratified US population data, after adjustment for NDI nonresponse.

Results: There were 539 deaths, and the overall SMR was 0.90 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.61-1.26). Among 1,665 clinic patients, the SMR was 0.92 (95% CI 0.81-1.05). Sensitivity analyses varying the rate of NDI nonidentification did not alter the nonassociation. Adjusted for age and sex, the hazard ratio for fibromyalgia compared with osteoarthritis was 1.05 (95% CI 0.94-1.17). The standardized mortality odds ratio (OR) compared with the US general population was increased for suicide (OR 3.31, 95% CI 2.15-5.11) and for accidental deaths (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.02- 2.06), but not for malignancy.

Conclusion: Mortality does not appear to be increased in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, but the risk of death from suicide and accidents was increased.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death / trends
  • Databases, Factual / trends
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / diagnosis
  • Fibromyalgia / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis / mortality
  • United States