Fibromyalgia initiative promotes early, accurate diagnosis

Mar 20, 2009

An outcomes-based fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) education program is designed to provide physicians and other health care professionals with a broad range of useful information about the disease and thus promote earlier, more accurate diagnosis.

An outcomes-based fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) education program is designed to provide physicians and other health care professionals with a broad range of useful information about the disease and thus promote earlier, more accurate diagnosis. The Fibromyalgia Circle of Care Initiative, a muti-interventional series of educational activities, was launched recently by The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, The Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing, and the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA).

The FMS program is geared to primary care physicians, rheumatologists, psychiatrists, pain management specialists, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Topics covered include disease state awareness, diagnosis, the impact of early diagnosis and referral, multidisciplinary care, and the latest therapeutic options and strategies. A review of clinical trials that assess newer therapies for FMS also is provided.

Program components in this collaborative effort to improve outcomes in the 10 million Americans who are affected by FMS include the following:
•Practical and interactive case-related content.
•Summaries of clinical data and recommendations on how to implement management strategies into clinical practice.
•Updates on clinical practice recommendations and guidelines.
•Evidence-based outcomes.
•Patient communication content and materials.
•Treatment adherence and compliance strategies.

Patients with FMS may see 4 physicians over the course of 5 to 8 years after disease onset before an accurate diagnosis is made, resulting in underdiagnosis, misdiagnosis, and inappropriate treatment, according to the NFA. The FMS initiative addresses this problem by minimizing the lack of awareness among physicians that is responsible for their inability or reluctance to make a diagnosis and for a general fragmentation of care.

The interactive program drives participation among providers and implementation of evidence-based lessons within their own practices. After completing the program, they will be prepared to use the tools and lessons learned to make a positive and tangible impact on patients' quality of life, according to the NFA.

FMS, which affects up to 6% of patients seen in general medical practices in the United States, makes a significant impact on health care costs, the NFA noted. Costs range from $12 to $14 billion per year, accounting for a loss of 1% to 2% of the nation's overall productivity, according to a 2003 study. The study also found that total annual costs for FMS claimants are more than twice as high as those for typical insurance beneficiaries, and the prevalence of disability among employees who have FMS is twice as high as among all employees. In addition, for every dollar spent on FMS-specific claims, employers spend about $50 to $100 on additional direct and indirect costs.

For more information on the Fibromyalgia Circle of Care Initiative or other NFA programs, visit the organization's Web site at www.fmaware.org. Or, contact the NFA at National Fibromyalgia Association, 2121 S. Towne Centre, Suite 300, Anaheim, CA 92806; telephone: 714-921-0150.