Illness perceptions in patients with fibromyalgia and their relationship to quality of life and catastrophizing

C Paul van Wilgen, Miriam W van Ittersum, Ad A Kaptein, Marten van Wijhe

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86 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: In the last decade, illness perceptions have been identified as important in the treatment of fibromyalgia (FM). The aim of the present study was to examine illness perceptions and use of the revised Illness Perception Questionnaire in patients with FM (IPQ-R-FM) and their relationship to quality of life and catastrophizing.

METHODS: A domain with specific causal attributions related to FM was added to the IPQ-R-FM. The psychometric properties of the IPQ-R-FM dimensions and attribution scales were examined. The causal domain, in which patients describe the most important perceived causes for their FM, was analyzed. To analyze the relationship with quality of life and catastrophizing, the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire and the Pain Catastrophizing Scale were used.

RESULTS: Fifty-one outpatients completed the questionnaires on 2 occasions, 3 weeks apart. FM was considered to be chronic and to have serious consequences; patients perceived little personal control and did not expect medical treatment to be effective. The psychometric properties of the IPQ-R-FM were found to be adequate. Patients most frequently attributed the causes of FM to an external somatic source (58%). Quality of life was related to experiencing more consequences attributable to FM. Catastrophizing was related to a limited understanding of the symptoms of FM, the more cyclical nature of FM, and an emotional representation.

CONCLUSION: The IPQ-R-FM is a useful tool to assess illness perceptions in patients with FM. Illness perceptions are related to quality of life and catastrophizing; therefore, it seems important to assess and integrate illness perceptions into the management of patients with FM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3618-3626
Number of pages9
JournalArthritis and Rheumatism
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia/psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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