Health and Wellness Coaching May Improve Symptoms of Fibromyalgia, Study Finds

Health and Wellness Coaching May Improve Symptoms of Fibromyalgia, Study Finds

Fibromyalgia patients may benefit from combining their medication with health and wellness programs, according to a new study.

The study, “A Pilot Study Of Health And Wellness Coaching For Fibromyalgia,” was published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.

“A recent [study] has documented the effectiveness of health and wellness coaching (HWC) for a variety of chronic medical conditions,” the authors wrote.

“The HWC approach employs health professionals trained in patient-centered coaching competencies. These include coaching tasks, knowledge, and skills. Coaching competencies are based upon evidence-based theories of behavior change, self-determination, self-efficacy, self-regulation, positive psychology, and motivational interviewing,” they added.

To determine whether health and wellness coaching (HWC) could be beneficial for fibromyalgia patients, nine women ages 18 to 65 with fibromyalgia were asked about their willingness to participate in a wellness coaching program. None of the patients were taking medications other than those for fibromyalgia, and there were no changes in these therapies during the study.

At the study’s start, all patients were assessed with the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR), which measures physical functioning, work status, depression, anxiety, sleep, pain, stiffness, fatigue, and well-being, and with the Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form (BPI), which measures pain intensity and interference with function. These measures were again performed six and 12 months after HWC.

The health and wellness coaching study was carried out for one year and had two components. First, each patient had phone call sessions with a coach at their preferred time and frequency (sessions lasted 45 minutes).

Then patients participated in bimonthly (first six months) and monthly (second six months) group classes on self-coaching strategies to help improve their well-being and quality of life — healthy eating, sleep, relaxation, exercise, self-compassion, and mindfulness activities.

After receiving the HWC protocol for one year, the patients’ quality of life was found to be improved by 35 percent. Pain was also improved after treatment: 32 percent in overall pain, 31 percent in pain severity, and 44 percent in pain interference. Healthcare utilization also declined by 86 percent, and so did RA-related encounters (78 percent).

“Addition of a HWC program to pharmacologic management of patients with [fibromyalgia] therapy produced clinically significant improvements in patient quality of life measures (FIQR), reduction in pain (BPI) severity and interference, and marked reductions in health care utilization,” the authors concluded.

“Further studies of these interventions are essential to improve the quality of life of [fibromyalgia] patients and to reduce the economic burden of [fibromyalgia] on our societies.”