Challenges in demonstrating the effectiveness of multidisciplinary treatment on quality of life, participation and health care utilisation in patients with fibromyalgia: a randomised controlled trial

Yvonne van Eijk-Hustings*, Marielle Kroese, Frans Tan, Annelies Boonen, Monique Bessems-Beks, Robert Landewe

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study aimed to examine the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary intervention with aftercare (MD) compared to aerobic exercise (AE) and usual care (UC) in recently diagnosed patients with fibromyalgia (FM). In a Zelen-like design, eligible patients from the outpatient rheumatology clinics of three medical centres in the South of the Netherlands were consecutively recruited and pre-randomised to MD (n = 108), AE (n = 47) or UC (n = 48). MD consisted of a 12-week course of sociotherapy, physiotherapy, psychotherapy and creative arts therapy (three half days per week), followed by five aftercare meetings in 9 months. AE was given twice a week in a 12-week course. UC varied but incorporated at least education and lifestyle advice. Primary outcomes were health-related quality of life (HR-Qol), participation and health care utilisation. Secondary outcome was the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ). Total follow-up duration of the study was 21-24 months. As willingness to participate in AE was limited, this group has been analysed but interpretation of the data is considered arguable. Within the MD group, a statistically significantly improved HR-Qol and a statistically significant reduction in number of hours sick leave, number of contacts with general practitioners and number of contacts with medical specialists was found. Moreover, statistically significant improvements were found on the FIQ, which increased after the intervention. However, no statistically significant between-group differences were found at the endpoint of the study. MD seemed to yield positive effects, but firm conclusions with regard to effectiveness cannot be formulated due to small between-group differences and limitations of the study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-209
JournalClinical Rheumatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • Early diagnosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Treatment outcome

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