Doctors' attitudes to fibromyalgia: a phenomenological study

Scand J Soc Med. 1998 Sep;26(3):232-7. doi: 10.1177/14034948980260030201.


Besides specific technical skills, successful encounters with patients require an understanding of the many ways in which patients may express themselves. This qualitative study reports on the clinical experiences of doctors when meeting patients with fibromyalgia (FM). Ten strategically chosen rheumatologists and 10 GPs in central Sweden were interviewed. The interviews were taped, transcribed and analysed in accordance with the empirical, phenomenological, psychological method. The analyses indicate that doctors try to comply with the wishes and demands of patients, and at the same time avoid perceptions of personal frustration. They are inclined to be objective and to act instrumentally, apparently in order to keep in touch with what gave biomedical meaning to an otherwise incomprehensible phenomenon. The meaning structures revealed by doctors' descriptions of FM and of relating to FM patients were characterized mainly by the way in which the doctors were (i) managing their clinical uncertainty, (ii) adhering to the biomedical paradigm, (iii) prioritizing diagnostics, (iv) establishing an instrumental relationship, and (v) avoiding recognizing FM as a possible biomedical anomaly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Causality
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / etiology
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology*
  • Fibromyalgia / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Rheumatology
  • Sick Role