The coping mechanisms utilised by patients with the fibromyalgia syndrome (FM) pose a crucial focus of treatment. Previous research points to the positive effects of religiosity and spirituality (R/S) as tools for coping with illness. The role of these factors in coping with chronic pain in FMS has not previously been studied. The aim of this study was to evaluate the link between R/S and FMS outcomes.
Fifty-five FM patients (ACR criteria) attending a tertiary rheumatology clinic completed a packet of questionnaires assessing demographic data, levels of religiosity and spirituality (SpREUK) and locus of control (LOC). These variables were then individually assessed for influence on FM outcome measures, using the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), the SF-36, and the Beck Depression Index (BDI).
A high score on SpREUK I (search for meaningful support) was negatively correlated with the Role-Physical (p=0.032) and Role-Emotional (p<0.005) scales on SF-36. Secular patients scored higher on SF-36 domains of "Role limitation due to emotional health" and "General health" (p<0.05). Employment demonstrated a positive correlation with the FIQ (p<0.01), the BDI (p<0.001), and the SF-36 (p<0.05). Physical activity correlated positively with BDI scores (p=0.012) and better scores on SF-36: energy/fatigue (p=0.024), social-functioning (p=0.014) and physical-functioning (p<0.01). No significant correlation was found between LOC (internal versus external) and FMS outcomes. No significant correlation was found between SpREUK domains and the BDI.
FM patients do not appear to benefit from high levels of R/S. Physicians should be aware of the impact of R/S on well-being in this population.