Fibromyalgia is a complex long-term condition where patients experience several symptoms. These include chronic widespread pain, fatigue, sleep that isn’t refreshing, mood changes and problems with memory and thinking.
Diagnosis can be challenging. GPs are often the first point of contact for patients, but they may not have experience of diagnosing fibromyalgia. As a result, patients are often referred to specialists.
Previous studies have found that patients with fibromyalgia can feel frustration about:
- how long it can take to get a diagnosis
- lack of advice on how to manage symptoms
- some healthcare professionals’ attitudes towards patients with fibromyalgia
Once patients have a diagnosis, guidelines recommend they should be given information about the condition and self-management techniques. But there is limited evidence on how health professionals should best support patients to manage their symptoms.
This study aims to understand the views and experiences of healthcare practitioners working with patients with fibromyalgia. We will interview health professionals including GPs, rheumatologists, physiotherapists and psychologists in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
We will be working with patients with fibromyalgia to help us develop interview questions and interpret our findings. The interviews will investigate the best ways to support GPs towards earlier diagnosis and enhancing self-management.
Early diagnosis and effective self-management could lead to considerable patient benefit at a low cost. This project will shed light on how healthcare for patients with fibromyalgia can be improved.
- Professor Nicola Walsh, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)
- Gemma Artz