New Global Survey Exposes Considerable Burden of Fibromyalgia Including Potential Economic Impact

Friday, June 13, 2008 General News
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PARIS, June 13

- Lack of Physician Education May Contribute to Problem

A new global survey of fibromyalgia patients and physicians shows thatfibromyalgia, a chronic widespread pain condition, results in poor quality oflife and poses a financial burden on patients often resulting in an inabilityto work and earn income. The burden of fibromyalgia may be further compoundedby the fact that in most countries it takes patients on average, 1.9 to 2.7years and between 2 and 4 physicians to receive an accurate diagnosis.According to the survey, lack of physician confidence in recognizing symptomsof the condition may be contributing to delays in diagnosis. These new surveyfindings were released today by the European Network of FibromyalgiaAssociations (ENFA), a coalition of patient advocacy organizations, andPfizer Inc, and include findings from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain,the Netherlands, Mexico and S. Korea.

Poor Quality of Life for Patients with Fibromyalgia

In all countries surveyed, patients with fibromyalgia say they experience6 to 11 symptoms on average, including chronic widespread pain, sleepdisturbance, fatigue and sensitivity to touch. Many of the symptoms aredescribed by patients as extremely or very disruptive to the overall qualityof their lives. Patients say the areas of their lives that are most affectedare physical mobility, overall mood, concentration and memory, and motivationand drive.

Financial Burden of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia places a financial burden on patients and can result inmissed work days and limited ability or inability to work. Across allEuropean countries surveyed, at least 1 in 5 patients said they have beenunable to work and earn an income. Furthermore, one third of patients inSpain, more than in any other country surveyed, claim they lost their jobsdue to fibromyalgia. In most countries, around half of all patients say theyhave missed 10 or more days of work over the last year.

Diagnosis Can Take Years

The survey shows that for patients with fibromyalgia, a diagnosis maytake years for a number of reasons. Patients in this survey waited an averageof 5 months (UK) to 1.5 years (Mexico) to consult a physician about theirsymptoms because they thought their symptoms would go away or they couldmanage them on their own. Once patients have consulted a physician, it cantake on average, 1.9 to 2.7 years and between 2 and 4 physicians to receivean accurate diagnosis. In Spain, this process was even longer (3.7 years).

"These survey findings are so important because they expose thechallenges facing people living with fibromyalgia and validate the tremendousimpact of the condition on their lives," says Robert Boelhouwer, President ofthe European Network of Fibromyalgia Associations (ENFA). "It is my hope thatthese new data will prompt a dialogue about steps that can be taken toimprove diagnosis and management of fibromyalgia so we can reduce theenormous burden of this chronic pain condition."

Physicians Lack Confidence in Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

Contributing to the lengthy process of diagnosis may be physicians' lackof confidence in diagnosing fibromyalgia. Interestingly, this problem was notexclusive to primary care physicians since specialists surveyed also reportsignificant difficulties diagnosing fibromyalgia. In fact, between 16%(Mexico) and 71% (Korea) of all physicians surveyed say they are not very ornot at all confident in recognizing symptoms of fibromyalgia. Between 25%(Mexico) and 73% (Korea) of physicians also say they are not very or not atall confident in their ability to differentiate symptoms of fibromyalgia fromother conditions. According to the survey, insufficient training ofphysicians may contribute to the problem. As a result, it was not surprisingto see that a significant proportion of physicians in all countries reportthe c

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