Managing symptoms of fibromyalgia

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.

Project aims

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.

Anticipated impacts

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.

Lead collaborators

CLAHRC West staff

Heather Brant profile photo

Dr Heather Brant

Michelle Farr

Dr Michelle Farr

Partners on this project

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group

NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) is the organisation responsible for commissioning hospital and community health services to ensure that the health needs of BNSSG's population are met. It is made up of local GPs and health professionals from the 85 local practices, working together with other clinicians and patients to decide how the local NHS budget should be spent.

University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)

UWE Bristol is one of Britain's largest universities with a consistent reputation for high graduate employment, quality in teaching and growth in research. It is at the heart of dynamic partnerships that deliver real impact in the world. UWE hosts the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, the largest academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK.