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Pain Research and Management
Volume 16 (2011), Issue 6, Pages 440-444
Original Article

Primary Care Physicians’ Perceptions of the Challenges and Barriers in the Timely Diagnosis, Treatment and Management of Fibromyalgia

Nandini Hadker,1 Suchita Garg,1 Arthi B Chandran,2 Sheila M Crean,1 Michael McNett,3 and Stuart L Silverman4

1United BioSource Corporation, Lexington, Massachusetts, USA
2Pfizer Inc, New York, New York, USA
3APAC Center for Pain Management, Chicago, Illinois, USA
4University of California — Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVES: To describe beliefs and practice patterns of primary care physicians (PCPs) providing fibromyalgia (FM) care, and to characterize differences between PCPs who report being able to provide timely and beneficial care versus the remaining PCPs.

METHODS: A mixed-methods approach including surveys followed by semi-structured focus groups among United States-based PCPs in seven cities was used. Post hoc, a composite threshold of timely and beneficial care, defined as PCPs reports of at least one-half of their patients achieving an ‘acceptable’ quality of life within one to four office visits after diagnosis, was created to compare subgroups.

RESULTS: Forty-six per cent of PCPs reported some uncertainty when diagnosing FM. PCPs reported personally treating approximately two-thirds of their patients (63%), and reported an average of three dosage titrations. In a post hoc exploratory analysis, 42.5% of PCPs met a composite threshold of self-reported timely and beneficial FM care. These PCPs reported fewer office visits to confirm an FM diagnosis (2.7 versus 4.0 visits [P<0.01]) and more patients with ‘significant improvement’ (38% versus 23% [P<0.01]) after six months of treatment compared with the remaining PCPs.

CONCLUSIONS: Physicians self-reported an inadequacy in diagnosing, treating and managing patients with FM in current practice. A subset of PCPs, however, perceived an ability to reach a definitive diagnosis and initiate treatment plans relatively sooner than the other respondents. If the perception of this subset can be confirmed with objective clinical outcomes, and these behaviours modelled, steps could be taken to improve FM care within the broader PCP setting.