Women with fibromyalgia : Employment and daily life

Abstract: Introduction: The major symptoms of fibromyalgia have been shown to severely impact everyday activities. As a consequence, many women have problems remaining in a work role. Not being able to fulfil valued roles influences quality of life. Moreover, consequences in terms of high costs in compensation for reduced work ability are also of importance for society. Today, the number of young women diagnosed with fibromyalgia is increasing.Objectives: The general aim of this thesis was to increase and deepen knowledge of the life situation of women with fibromyalgia; to examine how to manage a work role when in constant pain, and especially the situation for newly-diagnosed women.Subjects and Methods: 278 women with longstanding pain were included. The thesis includes five different studies, two of them with a focus on the work situation, two with focus on young, newly-diagnosed women’s life situation, and one investigating time-use and activity patterns in working and non-working women with fibromyalgia. Methods used are a postal questionnaire, instruments commonly used in fibromyalgia, a diary, and interviews.Results: Despite limitations in physical capacity, 48% of the women are working, full-time or part-time. However, most job loss is associated with the fibromyalgia symptoms, and the women report that the symptoms influence their daily activities during most of their waking time. There is a rapid increase in sickness absence in the newly-diagnosed women, and the young women in particular do not return to the labour market during the first year after receiving their diagnosis. The non-working women have a more demanding family situation, and are also less satisfied with their present situation than working women.Conclusion: When individual adjustments of the work situation are made and the women participate to a level that matches their ability, they are able to continue in a work role. In evaluating the women’s work capacity, the total life situation of the women should be considered.

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