Objectives: Regular exercise is associated with important benefits in patients with fibromyalgia (FM). Unfortunately, long-term maintenance of exercise after a structured program is rare. The present study tested the efficacy of Motivational Interviewing (MI) to promote exercise and improve symptoms in patients with FM.
Methods: A total of 216 patients with FM were randomized to 6 MI sessions (n=107) or an equal number of FM self-management lessons (education control/EC, n=109). Co-primary endpoints were an increase of 30 minutes in moderate-vigorous physical activity and improvement in the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ)-Physical Impairment score, assessed at pretreatment, posttreatment, and 3-month and 6-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes included clinically meaningful improvements in FIQ score, pain severity ratings, and a 6-minute walk test.
Results: There were no significant treatment group differences in either co-primary endpoint at 6-month follow-up. However, more MI participants than controls exhibited meaningful improvements in FIQ score at 6-month follow-up (62.9% vs. 49.5%, P=0.06). Compared with EC participants, MI participants also displayed a larger increment in their 6-minute walk test (43.9 vs. 24.8 m, P=0.03). In addition, MI was superior to EC in increasing the number of hours of physical activity immediately postintervention and in reducing pain severity both immediately after the intervention and at 3-month follow-up.
Conclusions: Despite a lack of benefits on long-term outcome, MI seems to have short-term benefits with respect to self-report physical activity and clinical outcomes. This is the first study in FM that explicitly addresses exercise maintenance as a primary aim.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00573612.