Social Media Addiction More Prevalent in Patients With Fibromyalgia

Investigators set out to determine the effect on social media use in relation to disease severity and sleep quality in patients with fibromyalgia.

Patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) were more likely to use social media, which may encourage physicians to evaluate these habits in their patients, according to a study published in Advances in Rheumatology.1

FMS is associated with fatigue, sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety, thus affecting daily life for this patient population both physically and psychologically. Poor sleep quality was seen in 80% of patients with FMS, which is not only a risk factor for developing FMS, it has also been shown to increase the severity of symptoms. Investigators set out to determine the effect on social media use in relation to disease severity and sleep quality.

“Although studies in the literature have shown a relationship between intense social media use and depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, to the best of our knowledge, no study has investigated social media use in FMS patients,” investigators stated. “Depression, anxiety, and sleep problems are often seen in FMS patients, and this may be associated with more intense social media use.”

A total of 205 patients aged > 18 years who used social media were included in the study, with 103 patients in the FMS group and 102 in the control group. Demographics, such as sex, educational and marital status, age, occupation, height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) were collected. Pain severity was evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS) and the length of time on social media was reported. Disease severity was assessed using the FMS symptom severity scale, as well as the widespread pain index.

The prospective, cross-sectional analysis was conducted at the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR) Clinic of Bursa City Hospital. Patients in the FMS cohort were treated for either anxiety, depression, or sleep disturbance for 3 or more months. The control group presented symptoms of pain for 3 or more months but had no history of anxiety or depression and had not received psychiatric treatment.

Sleep was evaluated using the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) 8-item sleep disorder short form questionnaire, which analyzes factors such as sleep quality, depth, adequacy, and satisfaction. Social media habits were studied using the Social Media Addition Scale-Adult Form (SMAS-AF).

Although the VAS scores, PROMIS Sleep scores, and SMAF scores, and social media addition were higher in the FMS cohort, investigators found no correlation between social media use in this patient population and the severity of disease.

Students tended to spend more time on social media than those with other occupations and time spent appeared to decrease as age increased.

Investigators believe social media use is likely affected by age, gender, occupation, education level, and marital status.

The study was limited by its cross-sectional nature and because data was self-reported by patients. Additionally, it was difficult to determine cause and effect relationships with these results. Further, patients with FMS and anxiety, depression, or sleep issues were not compared with the control cohort. Although the social media addiction scale was tested for validity and reliability, it had not been previously tried in these types of studies. Lastly, the times of day in which patients used social media were not reported.

“These data suggest that social media use is more associated with symptoms accompanying FMS than with symptom severity and prevalence of FMS. As causality factors continue to be explored, these insights can motivate healthcare professionals to evaluate social media habits in individuals with FMS,” investigators concluded. “As the first study to investigate the relationship between social media use and FMS, it can be considered that the study will serve as a guide for future more detailed studies.”

Reference:

Külekçioğlu, S., Çetin, A. Social media use in patients with fibromyalgia and its effect on symptom severity and sleep quality. Adv Rheumatol 6151 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42358-021-00210-7