The effects of COVID-19 fear and anxiety on symptom severity, sleep quality, and mood in patients with fibromyalgia: a pilot study

Adv Rheumatol. 2021 Jun 30;61(1):41. doi: 10.1186/s42358-021-00200-9.


Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals faced psychological stress caused by fear and anxiety due to the high transmission and mortality rate of the disease, the social isolation, economic problems, and difficulties in reaching health services. Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic centralized pain sensitivity disorder. Psychological, physical and/or autoimmune stressors were found to increase FM symptoms. This pilot study aimed to evaluate the COVID-19 fear and anxiety level, and to examine their effect on disease severity, sleep quality, and mood in FM patients compared to control group.

Methods: This pilot study conducted as a cross-sectional study, and included 62 participants. Participants were divided into two groups: FM patient group (n = 31) and control group (n = 31). Symptom severity, sleep quality, and mood were determined using the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR), Pitsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale (HADS), respectively. In order to evaluate the level of COVID-19 fear and anxiety, the Fear of COVID-19 Scale (FCV-19S) and Coronavirus Anxiety Scale (CAS) were used compared to control group.

Results: FIQR, PSQI, HAD-A, HAD-D, FCV-19S and CAS scores were significantly higher in the FM group (p = 0.01). A positive significant correlation was found between FCV-19S and CAS results and FIQR, PSQI, and HAD-anx results in FM patients (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: This pilot study showed that, the individuals with FM can be more affected by psychological stress, and this situation negatively affects the symptom severity, sleep quality, and mood in FM patients, so these patients should be closely monitored in terms of psychological stressors and their effects during pandemics. More studies with more participants are necessary to describe the challenges lived by fibromyalgia population.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus anxiety scale; Fear of COVID-19 scale; Fibromyalgia; Symptom severity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / diagnosis*
  • COVID-19 / mortality
  • COVID-19 / psychology*
  • COVID-19 / transmission
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology*
  • Health Surveys / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep*
  • Socioeconomic Factors