Fibromyalgia represents the tip of the iceberg of chronic pain in the general population. We have attempted to estimate the prevalence of fibromyalgia in the Israeli population, using the London Fibromyalgia Epidemiology Study Screening Questionnaire (LFESSQ), an instrument previously utilised in several European countries.
Methods: The LFESSQ-4 screens for widespread pain, and the LFESSQ-6 for widespread pain and chronic fatigue. The LFESSQ was administered via telephone to a sample of 1019 individuals. To estimate the positive predictive value (PPV) of LFESSQ-4 and LFESSQ-6, this questionnaire was submitted to a sample of rheumatology outpatients (n=76), who were examined to confirm or exclude fibromyalgia according to the 1990 criteria. The prevalence of fibromyalgia in the general population was estimated by applying the PPV to community subjects.
Results: In the community survey, 5.1% and 3.9% of individuals screened positive for the LFESSQ-4 and LFESSQ-6, respectively. The point prevalence of FMS in the Israeli general population was 2.6% (95%CI 1.7-3.4) when using LFESSQ-4 and 2.0% (95%CI 1.3-2.7) when using the LFESSQ-6 criteria.
Conclusions: The prevalence of the fibromyalgia syndrome in the Israeli population is considerable and constitutes a significant health care issue. The prevalence is similar to that observed in other western populations. Based on this tool, over 25% of fibromyalgia cases appear to be among males, a proportion higher than generally appreciated.