The psychological profiles of fibromyalgia patients: towards a model of taxonomy and maintenance of the illness

by Govender, Catherine Olly.

Abstract (Summary)
The debate over the legitimacy of Fibromyalgia as a pain syndrome is often highlighted in the literature. The result of this is that patients are left feeling demoralised by the lack of acknowledgement of their symptoms and the innuendos of hypochondria or malingering. This study proposes that professionals move beyond this and into a more solution-focused stage that encourages the examination of predisposing factors and the implementation of means of improving the lives of patients. The aim of this study was to describe the psychological profiles of Fibromyalgia patients in terms of attachment styles, Sense of Coherence, Attributional Style and depression. Twenty-nine patients aged between twenty-two and sixty-four participated in the study, completing the relevant questionnaires. The design is a quantitative one, with both descriptive and inferential statistical procedures being employed to analyse the data. It is argued that key elements in the onset, maintenance and augmentation of Fibromyalgia Syndrome symptoms are to be found by examining the psychological feature of patients with the disorder. Although some research has been conducted into psychological factors in Fibromyalgia, the field is not nearly as well explored as the physical elements. This research is therefore of great importance to the Fibromyalgia knowledge base. Moreover, it offers a Salutogenic perspective, which may be useful in combating the devastating effects of this chronic pain syndrome. The study is limited by its cross-sectional design and lack of control group. Nonetheless, it does give rise to some intriguing findings. If attachment is to be regarded as the working model that an individual maintains of self and other, then it is possible that disorders that are believed to be related to depression (such as FMS) will also be correlated to insecure attachment styles. The research, however, indicates that the FMS patients in this sample do not display the predicted high percentage of insecure attachment styles. An almost even split between those having a high Sense of Coherence and those with a low score was also found. When relating these findings to other psychological parameters (such as Attributional Style and level of depressive ii University of Pretoria etd – Govender, C O (2005) symptoms), a discussion is born that allows for more complex interactions than a linear argument does. The research is then lifted from its pathogenic origins to embrace the origins of health. Further research is then prompted by this study and framed in the Salutogenic question: how do some patients with FMS maintain healthy attachment styles and a high Sense of Coherence despite their illness? Key words: Fibromyalgia; attachment style; Sense of Coherence; Attributional Style; mediating factors; stress-diathesis; intimate relationships; relationship satisfaction; Salutogenesis; depression iii University of Pretoria etd – Govender, C O (2005) INDEX
Bibliographical Information:


School:University of Pretoria/Universiteit van Pretoria

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:

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