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Scandinavian Journal of Pain

Official Journal of the Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

Editor-in-Chief: Werner, Mads

CiteScore 2018: 0.85

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.494
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.427

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Volume 19, Issue 1


Patients’ perspective of the effectiveness and acceptability of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments of fibromyalgia

Sophie J. Taylor
  • Corresponding author
  • Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
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/ Michael Steer
  • Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
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/ Simon C. Ashe
  • Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
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/ Penny J. Furness
  • Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Sarah Haywood-Small
  • Biomolecular Sciences Research Centre, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
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/ Kim Lawson
  • Biomolecular Sciences Research Centre, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-10-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2018-0116


Background and aims

Fibromyalgia is a complex condition characterised by widespread pain, sleep disturbance, fatigue and cognitive impairment, with a global mean prevalence estimated at 2.7%. There are inconsistencies in guidelines on the treatment of fibromyalgia leading to dissatisfaction from patients and healthcare professionals. This study investigated patient-reported outcomes of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment usage and effectiveness with an assessment of acceptability.


Nine hundred and forty-one participants completed a self-administered anonymous questionnaire giving quantitative data of demographics, treatment usage and treatment outcomes. Participant-reported effectiveness and side effects were compared in the following treatment classes: analgesics, antidepressants, gabapentinoids, gastrointestinal treatments, activity interventions, dietary-based treatments, and psychological, physical and alternative therapies. Participants also reported whether they knew about or had tried different treatments.


The results from the online survey indicated that the range of mean effectiveness ratings were similar for pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, whereas non-pharmacological treatments had lower side effects ratings and higher acceptability relative to pharmacological treatments. Participants were not aware of some treatment options.


The results show lower side effects ratings and higher acceptability for non-pharmacological treatments compared to pharmacological treatments despite similar effectiveness ratings.


This article presents results from a large online survey on fibromyalgia patient perspectives of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments. Results will inform healthcare professionals and patients about optimal treatments based on ratings of effectiveness, side effects and acceptability that are tailored to patient symptom profiles. Some participants were unaware of treatment options highlighting the importance of patient education allowing collaboration between patients and healthcare professionals to find optimal treatments.

Keywords: fibromyalgia; patients’ perspective; online survey; pharmacological treatments; non-pharmacological treatments


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About the article

Corresponding author: Dr. Sophie J. Taylor, Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Sheffield Hallam University, Heart of the Campus, Collegiate Crescent, Sheffield S10 2BP, UK

Received: 2018-07-19

Revised: 2018-09-10

Accepted: 2018-09-19

Published Online: 2018-10-13

Published in Print: 2019-01-28

Authors’ statements

Research funding: SA received financial support from Folly Pogs Fibromyalgia Research UK. SA and MS received financial support from the Department of Psychology, Sociology & Politics, Sheffield Hallam University.

Conflict of interest: Authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Informed consent: Participants were informed of the nature of the survey and what information would be collected so they could decide whether to take part. Completion and submission of the survey was taken as implied consent.

Ethical approval: This project received ethical approval from the Sheffield Hallam University Research Ethics Committee.

Citation Information: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, Volume 19, Issue 1, Pages 167–181, ISSN (Online) 1877-8879, ISSN (Print) 1877-8860, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2018-0116.

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