New Global Survey Exposes Considerable Burden of Fibromyalgia Including Potential Economic Impact



    - Lack of Physician Education May Contribute to Problem

    PARIS, June 13 /CNW/ - A new global survey of fibromyalgia patients and
physicians shows that fibromyalgia, a chronic widespread pain condition,
results in poor quality of life and poses a financial burden on patients often
resulting in an inability to work and earn income. The burden of fibromyalgia
may be further compounded by the fact that in most countries it takes patients
on average, 1.9 to 2.7 years and between 2 and 4 physicians to receive an
accurate diagnosis.
    According to the survey, lack of physician confidence in recognizing
symptoms of the condition may be contributing to delays in diagnosis. These
new survey findings were released today by the European Network of
Fibromyalgia Associations (ENFA), a coalition of patient advocacy
organizations, and Pfizer Inc, and include findings from the UK, France,
Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Mexico and S. Korea.

    Poor Quality of Life for Patients with Fibromyalgia

    In all countries surveyed, patients with fibromyalgia say they experience
6 to 11 symptoms on average, including chronic widespread pain, sleep
disturbance, fatigue and sensitivity to touch. Many of the symptoms are
described by patients as extremely or very disruptive to the overall quality
of their lives. Patients say the areas of their lives that are most affected
are physical mobility, overall mood, concentration and memory, and motivation
and drive.

    Financial Burden of Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia places a financial burden on patients and can result in
missed work days and limited ability or inability to work. Across all European
countries surveyed, at least 1 in 5 patients said they have been unable to
work and earn an income. Furthermore, one third of patients in Spain, more
than in any other country surveyed, claim they lost their jobs due to
fibromyalgia. In most countries, around half of all patients say they have
missed 10 or more days of work over the last year.

    Diagnosis Can Take Years

    The survey shows that for patients with fibromyalgia, a diagnosis may
take years for a number of reasons. Patients in this survey waited an average
of 5 months (UK) to 1.5 years (Mexico) to consult a physician about their
symptoms because they thought their symptoms would go away or they could
manage them on their own. Once patients have consulted a physician, it can
take on average, 1.9 to 2.7 years and between 2 and 4 physicians to receive an
accurate diagnosis. In Spain, this process was even longer (3.7 years).
    "These survey findings are so important because they expose the
challenges facing people living with fibromyalgia and validate the tremendous
impact of the condition on their lives," says Robert Boelhouwer, President of
the European Network of Fibromyalgia Associations (ENFA). "It is my hope that
these new data will prompt a dialogue about steps that can be taken to improve
diagnosis and management of fibromyalgia so we can reduce the enormous burden
of this chronic pain condition."

    Physicians Lack Confidence in Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

    Contributing to the lengthy process of diagnosis may be physicians' lack
of confidence in diagnosing fibromyalgia. Interestingly, this problem was not
exclusive to primary care physicians since specialists surveyed also report
significant difficulties diagnosing fibromyalgia. In fact, between 16%
(Mexico) and 71% (Korea) of all physicians surveyed say they are not very or
not at all confident in recognizing symptoms of fibromyalgia. Between 25%
(Mexico) and 73% (Korea) of physicians also say they are not very or not at
all confident in their ability to differentiate symptoms of fibromyalgia from
other conditions. According to the survey, insufficient training of physicians
may contribute to the problem. As a result, it was not surprising to see that
a significant proportion of physicians in all countries report the condition
is often or almost always misdiagnosed.
    "The survey findings are worrying because they suggest that physicians
lack knowledge and training in managing patients with fibromyalgia, which is
most certainly contributing to delays in the diagnosis and treatment of the
condition," said Ernest Choy M.D., Department of Rheumatology, GKT School of
Medicine, King's College, London (UK). "It is important that the medical
community and policy makers now take the necessary steps to provide physicians
with the education and training they need to properly and confidently manage
patients with fibromyalgia."

    About Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia is one of the most common, chronic widespread pain
conditions and affects between 16 and 40 million people worldwide.
Fibromyalgia is usually accompanied by poor sleep, stiffness and fatigue along
with other co-morbidities. Fibromyalgia is more prevalent in women, who
account for 87 percent of diagnosed cases; however, men can also be affected.
    The exact causes of fibromyalgia are not yet known. Some scientists
believe that there is an abnormality in how the body responds to pain,
particularly a heightened sensitivity to stimuli. A growing body of evidence
suggests that alterations in the central nervous system may contribute to the
pain of fibromyalgia.

    About the Survey

    The European Network of Fibromyalgia Associations (ENFA) and Pfizer Inc
partnered to develop the Fibromyalgia Global Impact Survey to advance
understanding and aid diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The independent polling
organization Harris Interactive conducted the survey. The survey was supported
by Pfizer Inc. The survey included 800 diagnosed fibromyalgia patients and
1,622 physicians total from eight countries: the UK, France, Germany, Italy,
Spain, the Netherlands, Mexico and S. Korea. In each country, 100 diagnosed
fibromyalgia patients, approximately 100 PCPs (primary care physicians) and
approximately 100 specialists (25 rheumatologists, 25 neurologists, 25 pain
specialists and 25 psychiatrists) were interviewed. Of the 1,622 physicians
surveyed, 1,294 had treated fibromyalgia patients in the last 2 years and 328
had not. Patients who participated in the survey were 18 years of age or older
with the highest percentage of patients (ranging from 30% in Spain and 46% in
Mexico) being between 45-59 years of age. Both females (n=675) and males
(n=125) were included in the survey. Data collection was conducted from
February 25, 2008 through April 17, 2008.

    About the European Network of Fibromyalgia Associations (ENFA)

    The European Network of Fibromyalgia Associations (ENFA) was formed in
September 2004 to increase awareness of fibromyalgia in Europe and provide
support and information to patients and caregivers. There are currently 11
countries part of ENFA including, the UK, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands,
Germany, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal and Israel.





For further information:

For further information: Sejal Sedani, at Resolute Communications,
+44-20-7357-8187, sejal.sedani@resolutecommunications.com

Organization Profile

EUROPEAN NETWORK OF FIBROMYALGIA ASSOCIATIONS (ENFA)

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