Objective: To determine the effectiveness of self-management education and physical training in decreasing fibromyalgia (FMS) symptoms and increasing physical and psychological well being.
Methods: A pretest-posttest control group design was used. Ninety-nine women with FMS were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups; 86 completed the study. The education only group received a 6-week self-management course. The education plus physical training group received the course and 6 h of training designed to assist them to exercise independently. The control group got treatment after 3 months.
Results: The experimental programs had a significant positive impact on quality of life and self-efficacy. Helplessness, number of days feeling bad, physical dysfunction, and pain in the tender points decreased significantly in one or both of the treated groups when retested 6 weeks after the end of the program. Longterm followup of 67 treated subjects showed significant positive changes on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire primarily in the physical training group. Among all subjects, 87% were exercising at least 3 times/week for 20 min or more; 46% said they had increased their exercise level since participating in the program; 70% were practicing relaxation strategies as needed; 46% were working at least half time as opposed to 37% at pretest.
Conclusion: Self-efficacy of the treated groups was enhanced significantly by the program. Other changes were smaller and more delayed than had been expected. Recommendations for future trials include a longer education program, more vigorous physical training, and longterm followup.