The prevalence of sexual abuse in women with fibromyalgia

Arthritis Rheum. 1995 Feb;38(2):229-34. doi: 10.1002/art.1780380211.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of sexual abuse in women diagnosed as having fibromyalgia (FM) compared with controls.

Methods: A self-administered questionnaire designed to obtain information regarding demographics, health care utilization, and history of sexual and physical abuse was completed by 40 women with FM and by 42 women who had no evidence of connective tissue disease or other major medical condition.

Results: Women with FM reported more physical symptoms and were significantly different on multiple indices of health compared with controls. Twenty-six FM subjects (65%) reported sexual abuse, in comparison with 22 controls (52%). The prevalence and type of abuse were not significantly different between groups. Sexually abused FM subjects reported significantly more symptoms than did non-sexually abused FM women, but did not differ in the number of symptoms for which they sought medical treatment.

Conclusion: Sexual abuse does not appear to be a specific factor in the etiology of FM, but is correlated with the number and severity of associated symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / complications*
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence