The effects of a group exercise and education programme on symptoms and physical fitness in patients with fibromyalgia: a prospective observational cohort study.

Research paper by Nadia N Loftus, Nick N Dobbin, Jennifer Susan JS Crampton

Indexed on: 03 Mar '21Published on: 02 Mar '21Published in: Disability and rehabilitation


Given the limited attention on a combined exercise and education approach for those with chronic musculoskeletal pain disorder such as fibromyalgia, the purpose of this was to evaluate the efficacy of a combined exercise and education programme on symptoms and physical fitness in participants with fibromyalgia. Using a prospective observational cohort study, participants with fibromyalgia ( = 75) volunteered. The 6-minute-walk-test (6MWT) and revised-fibromyalgia-impact-questionnaire (FIQR) were used before, after (6 weeks) and 6-months post an exercise and education programme. Forty-three participants (age = 49.7 ± 15.2 y) completed the 6-week programme, with improvements observed for the 6MWT (67 m,  < 0.001) and FIQR (11 AU,  < 0.001), though only two (6MWT) and five (FIQR) participants, respectively, achieved the minimal clinically important difference (MCID). Using 74% of the intial sample, a small-to-moderate improvement in scores were observed across the 6-month period for the 6MWT (37 m,  = 0.002) and FIQR (3 AU,  = 0.01), with only two participants achieving the MCID for the 6MWT. The results in this study indiciate small-to-moderate improvements in the 6MWT and FIQR after a combined exercise and education programme, with direct delivery being more effective.Implications for rehabilitationA six-week exercise and education programme elicited moderate, short-term (6 weeks) benefits on physical fitness and key symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia.On average, these benefits were sustained in the long-term (6 months) following the programme but were small-to-moderate and lower than the MCID.Regular follow-up may be required to improve adherence to the education and exercise programme and maintain or increase the observed improvements in 6MWT and FIQR.