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Relaxation & Guided Imagery Help with Fibromyalgia

07 Nov

Researchers from Barcelona, Spain examined whether a psycho-educational intervention delivered to patients with fibromyalgia (FM) in a primary care setting was more effective than usual care for improving their functional status.

Of the 484 fibromyalgia patients eligible for screening from a database at Viladecans Hospital, 108 patients were randomly assigned to the intervention arm of the study and 108 patients were assigned to usual care. The intervention was made up of nine 2-hour sessions (5 sessions of education and 4 sessions of autogenic relaxation). The patients were assessed before and after the intervention with a battery of instruments (measuring sociodemographic data, medical comorbidities, functional status, trait anxiety, and social desirability).

The posttreatment drop-out rate was 9.7% (intervention: 6.5%; control: 13%). The intention-to-treat analyses showed significant differences between the groups at posttreatment. The intervention group improved in physical impairment, days not feeling well, pain, general fatigue, morning fatigue, stiffness, anxiety, and depression (medium effect size in most cases). The patients who responded to the intervention reported less trait anxiety at baseline than non-responders. The absolute risk reduction with the intervention was 36.1% (95% confidence interval: 23.3-48.8) and the number needed to treat was 3 (95% confidence interval: 2.0-4.3).

The investigators conclude that a 2-month psycho-educational intervention improves the functional status of FM patients to a greater extent than usual care, at least in the short-term. The social desirability bias did not explain the reported outcomes. Trait anxiety was associated with response to treatment.

Citation: 
Luciano JV, Martínez N, Peñarrubia-María MT, Fernández-Vergel R, García-Campayo J, Verduras C, Blanco ME, Jiménez M, Ruiz JM, López del Hoyo Y, Serrano-Blanco A; FibroQoL Study Group. Effectiveness of a psychoeducational treatment program implemented in general practice for fibromyalgia patients: a randomized controlled trial. Clin J Pain. 2011 Jun; 27 (5): pp. 383-91. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award