Raising Awareness for Fibromyalgia

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • For many years fibromyalgia patients have lamented that too few doctors are knowledgeable about FM and how to treat it. Until recent years, it was not even mentioned in medical schools. Now FM is mentioned briefly, but not taught in any depth. Fortunately, things are about to change.

    The National Fibromyalgia Association and teamed up with The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and The Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing to develop three initiatives aimed at educating physicians nationwide. It’s called "The Fibromyalgia Circle of Care."

    The three educational initiatives will consist of:
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    • a series of institutional and community based satellite broadcasts to 7,000 US hospitals and community health centers.
    • a national series of workshops in major metropolitan cities and academic medical centers.
    • a national series of debate-based meetings focused on the multidisciplinary care and management of fibromyalgia.
    This integrated approach will provide multiple opportunities for physicians to learn about fibromyalgia as part of meeting their continuing medical education requirements. It is estimated that this collaborative effort will reach over 250,000 healthcare providers.

    The results of a recent NFA survey of healthcare providers underline the need for this education. Approximately one-in-three survey respondents who are knowledgeable about fibromyalgia incorrectly classified the condition as an autoimmune disease (32%) or a type of arthritis (28%). For most healthcare specialties surveyed, fewer than one-third of the physicians were "extremely/very confident" in their ability to diagnose FM.

    In a press release announcing the Circle of Care, noted FM researcher Daniel Clauw, M.D. stated, "Physician education is vital to understanding this illness and how therapies can help improve the quality of life in patients suffering from this disease that affects over 6 to 10 million people… With the approval of drugs specifically for fibromyalgia, clinicians are excited about the newly available treatment options. These initiatives will help ensure that clinicians understand how to incorporate drug and non-drug therapies together to lead to overall better management of fibromyalgia."

    Kudos to the NFA and Johns Hopkins for taking on this vitally important project!

Published On: December 13, 2007