Researchers Identify Variables Associated With Fibromyalgia Diagnosis Using Electronic Medical Record Data

Researchers Identify Variables Associated With Fibromyalgia Diagnosis Using Electronic Medical Record Data

shutterstock_130152038Findings from a recent retrospective study published in the Journal of Pain Research show important demographic, clinical, and health care resource variables associated with the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia (FM). Based on the results, the researchers suggest the use of EMR data for identifying variables associated with FM, which may help in the diagnosis and management of this condition.

In order to provide a first step toward identification of variables predictive of an FM diagnosis to help support the clinical management of FM, in their study titled “Electronic medical record data to identify variables associated with a fibromyalgia diagnosis: importance of health care resource utilization,” Elizabeth Masters from Pfizer, Inc., New York and her colleagues examined EMR data and tested differences in demographic, clinical, and health care resource utilization variables between subjects with a diagnosis of FM and those without FM. Data was retrieved from the Humedica electronic medical record where a total of 4,296 cases were identified between 2011 and 2012.

Results from univariate analysis revealed that patients with FM were mainly female with a mean age of 53.3 compared to a mean age of 52.7 for the non-FM group. Compared to the no-FM cohort, the researchers found that the FM cohort was characterized by a higher prevalence of almost all the examined comorbidities. FM patients were found to be more likely to have musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain conditions.

The researchers also found higher levels of use of specific health care resources including emergency-room visits, outpatient visits, hospitalizations, and medications were all associated with an FM diagnosis.

According to the researchers, the findings suggest that analysis of EMR data can help identify variables associated with FM in a real-world setting, and that further evaluation of health care resource utilization as a metric of FM diagnosis is warranted.

Widespread pain is the hallmark symptom of fibromyalgia (FM), a chronic, complex musculoskeletal condition that remains undiagnosed in a substantial proportion of patients with this disease. FM also causes other symptoms including fatigue, sleep and mood disturbances, cognitive dysfunction, and irritable bowel syndrome. The condition causes a substantial socioeconomic burden, with reductions in patient function, productivity, and quality of life, as well as high health care resource utilization. Identifying variables associated with, or predictive of, developing FM can enhance understanding of the disease and provide a focus for development of appropriate management strategies.