August/September 2014 (vol. 11/2)

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Fibromyalgia (FM) is a disorder characterised by chronic pain, sleep disturbance, fatigue and other symptoms. This controlled cross-sectional study found that female workers with FM have higher perceived exertion – a measure of how hard individuals feel they are working – than those without the condition, and that this is associated with physical work-related factors, depression, anxiety and fear-avoidance work beliefs. Addressing these factors may improve work ability. A total of 73 women with FM were matched according to occupational factors (such as profession, physical workload and repetitive work) with 73 women without FM. There was no significant difference in physical activity at work, but those with FM had significantly higher perceived exertion (p = 0.002). They also showed significantly lower physical capacity (eg muscle strength, six-minute walking distance), higher pain, depression and anxiety, and worked fewer hours (due to sickness absence or disability pension) compared with the control group (p <0.001 in each case). Those with FM scored highly on the Fear Avoidance Beliefs questionnaire, which measures the extent to which individuals believe work activity affects their chronic pain. Perceived exertion was correlated with fear avoidance beliefs, physical work activity and workload – the first two accounted for 50% of the perceived exertion in the regression analysis.

Perceived exertion at work in women with fibromyalgia: Explanatory factors and comparison with healthy women. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 2014; online first: doi: 10.2340/16501977-1843. 


Occupational Health at Work August/September 2014 (vol. 11/2) pp43