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Survey of Five European Countries: prevalence of fibromyalgia.

A recent survey was carried out across five European countries, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, to estimate the prevalence of fibromyalgia in the general population. The London Epidemiological Study Screening Questionnaire was administered by telephone to a sample of the community over 15 years of age.

It was also submitted to all outpatients at 8 participating hospitals. Those who met one of 2 criteria either:

  • having a 4 pain criteria or
  • 4 pain and 2 fatigue

were then examined by a rheumatologist to check for fibromyalgia. The questionnaire was also submitted to all outpatients referred to the eight participating rheumatology clinics for one month. These patients were examined by a rheumatologist to confirm or exclude the FM diagnosis according to the 1990 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria. The prevalence of FM in the general population was estimated by applying the positive-predictive values to eligible community subjects (ie, positive screens).

While the prevalence of FM was age and sex-related and varied among countries the estimated overall prevalence at the more specific criteria still accounts for an estimated 2.9% of the population. With the less specific criteria a value of 4.7% is obtained. If we apply those percentages across Europe and Great Britain then we can see the results below.

  2.90% 4.70%
EU 14,357,536 23,269,110
GB 1,763,684 2,858,385

The detailed results from the abstract were as follows :

“RESULTS: Among rheumatology outpatients, 46% screened positive for chronic widespread pain (LFESSQ-4), 32% for pain and fatigue (LFESSQ-6), and 14% were confirmed FM cases. In the whole general population, 13 and 6.7% screened positive for LFESSQ-4 and LFESSQ-6, respectively. The estimated overall prevalence of FM was 4.7% (95% CI: 4.0 to 5.3) and 2.9% (95% CI: 2.4 to 3.4), respectively, in the general population.

”Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2009 Feb 26. Branco JC, Bannwarth B, Failde I, Abello Carbonell J, Blotman F, Spaeth M, Saraiva F, Nacci F, Thomas E, Caubère JP, Le Lay K, Taieb C, Matucci-Cerinic M. Department of Rheumatology, Hospital Egas Moniz, Lisboa, Portugal.

PubMed Link

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