Patients' perspectives on fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University

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Massey University
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Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a chronic musculoskeletal pain syndrome of unknown origin and uncertain prognosis. In this study, patients' perspectives of their experiences of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) were explored using grounded theory methodology. Of particular interest were their perspectives on aetiology, symptoms, intervening conditions, coping strategies, and consequences of FMS. Eight FMS sufferers participated in one-to-one in-depth semi-structured interviews. Interview transcriptions were analysed using Strauss & Corbin's (1990) paradigm model of grounded theory. Findings indicate a degree of conceptual overlap with previous literature in terms of the known aetiology. However, new evidence appeared in the form of a combined reactive, idiopathic onset, with more support for a multifactorial FMS aetiology. Further, familial and heredity factors emerged as more significant aetiologies than was previously suspected for FMS suffers'. Symptoms for the present sample parallel to those of the literature. Specifically, both chronic pain and fatigue emerged as the most salient and disturbing symptom of the FMS experience. Pain assumed the role of the basic social process (BSP) in the core category that summed up the FMS experience. One new crucial finding was the degree of cyclic association between pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance, which interacted to create and maintain other FMS symptoms. Public and professional misperceptions, medical assistance, and knowledge of the condition emerged as important intervening conditions in the present population. Positive deferral emerged from the data as a new cognitive coping strategy. Moreover, a link was supported between cognitive coping strategies and self-efficacy. A new emergent pattern for FMS suffers revealed an evolution in the type and application of coping strategies. Consequences of FMS condition fluctuated and varied among patients according to various intervening conditions. The report discusses implications for patients, health professional and researchers. In general, the patients' perspective and dialogue on their own condition should be given greater weight in the diagnosis and treatment of FMS.
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Fibromyalgia, Patients