A team of scientists recently conducted research to assess the economic burden of those suffering with fibromyalgia and chronic widespread pain (CWP) in the United States. The study, entitled “The Comparative Burden of Chronic Widespread Pain and Fibromyalgia in the United States,“ was published in the Pain Practice journal.
According to the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain, fibromyalgia affects about 10 million people in the United States and between 3 and 6 percent of the world population. Both fibromyalgia and CWP are characterized by abnormal pain processing, widespread pain, sleep disturbance, fatigue and frequent psychological distress.
The study included a multistage, observational evaluation that included an online screening survey of a diverse and extensive geographical sample of the United States to assess CWP status, a physician visit to determine the fibromyalgia diagnosis, and another online questionnaire to register clinical characteristics, health status, pain, sleep, functioning, productivity, healthcare resource use (HRU) and costs. Based on this evaluation, three groups of individuals were identified: subjects without CWP (CWP−) and other with CWP but without FM (CWP+), and a group with confirmed FM.
The disease burden was analyzed in 472 subjects: 125 CWP-; 176 CWP+ and 171 FM. Race, age and ethnicity were identical across all groups. The mean body mass index and the number of comorbidities was higher from CWP− to CWP+ to FM. From CWP− to CWP+ to FM, there was also lower health status and sleep outcomes. Pain severity, overall work impairment (WPAI:SHP) and interference with function (BPI-SF) increased from CWP− to CWP+ to FM. Higher proportions of CWP+ (52.8 percent) and FM subjects (62.6 percent) were taking pain-related prescription medications relative to CWP− subjects (32.8 percent). There were significant differences in both total direct and indirect costs across all 3 groups and the highest costs were identified among fibromyalgia subjects.
Fibromyalgia individuals were characterized by the highest disease burden; more pain-related medications and comorbidities, lower health status, sleep, function and productivity were associated with these patients as well the highest overall healthcare costs.
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