The role of spousal relationships in fibromyalgia patients' quality of life

Psychol Health Med. 2018 Sep;23(8):987-995. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2018.1444183. Epub 2018 Feb 23.


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain syndrome that includes debilitating symptoms such as widespread pain and tenderness, fatigue, and poor physical functioning. Research has shown FM patients' choice of coping style and relationship quality with their spouse can impact their mental quality of life (QoL), but no known study has examined the protective nature of relationship quality and coping behaviors on both patient physical and mental QoL in the context of chronic pain. We examined 204 patients with FM on the (a) roles of coping styles and relationship quality on patient quality of life, and (b) moderating effect of relationship quality on the association between negative coping style and patient QoL. A series of multiple regressions found patients' coping styles were not significantly associated with physical QoL, but were significantly associated with mental QoL. Patients' relationship quality with their spouse was significantly associated with mental QoL, but not physical QoL and no significant interactions with negative coping style were found. Our results emphasize the importance of coping styles and relationship quality between patients and their spouses in the context of chronic pain. Clinicians can incorporate the patient's relationship as part of a more holistic approach to care and improving outcomes.

Keywords: Fibromyalgia; coping style; quality of life; relationship; spouse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Spouses*