Abstract

The author of this letter responds to an article regarding fibromyalgia in the July/August 2001 issue of The Guides Newsletter and notes an error in the article's assertion that fibromyalgia patients are not more likely to have psychiatric disorders than are other patients with chronic pain (eg, rheumatoid arthritis) because of an error in a previous study (the Alabama fibromyalgia research group). The author of the letter asserts that 27 studies show excess psychopathology in fibromyalgia patients; the few articles that support a diagnosis of fibromyalgia are dated and somewhat weak in terms of methodology. In fact, the Alabama study suffered from referral bias at academic centers and has been refuted by at least two other groups that found that fibromyalgia patients do not seem to have excess psychopathology because the studies were conducted at academic medical centers and therefore suffer from the typical tertiary care referral bias associated with more severely affected patients. The letter writer also highlights the original article's assertion that 14% to 23% of fibromyalgia patients receive a formal diagnosis of somatization. This is a large group of patients, the writer suggests, and a less restrictive diagnosis of “undifferentiated somatoform disorder” or “pain disorder” would increase the incidence. Finally, further discussions of fibromyalgia should address the excess incidence of abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional) during the early life of these patients.

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