Assessing the effect of fibromyalgia on patients’ sexual activity
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Assessing the effect of fibromyalgia on patients’ sexual activity

Sarah Ryan Nurse consultant rheumatology, Haywood Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent
Jackie Hill Arthritis Research Campaign senior lecturer, Rheumatology Nursing, Academic and Clinical Unit of Musculoskeletal Nursing, Chapel Allerton Hospital, Leeds
Catharine Thwaites Rheumatology nurse lecturer, Haywood Hospital and Keele University
Peter Dawes Consultant rheumatologist, Haywood Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Aims The primary aim of this study was to investigate whether a questionnaire developed for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) could also be used with patients who have fibromyalgia. A secondary aim was to assess the impact of fibromyalgia on sexuality.

Method In the first of two phases the face and content validity of a sexuality questionnaire already being used in patients with RA were assessed in a qualitative, audio-taped, interview study of five patients with fibromyalgia. The second phase consisted of a self-report questionnaire distributed to 60 patients with fibromyalgia.

Findings The interview data confirmed that the content of the RA sexuality questionnaire was relevant to patients with fibromyalgia. A total of 43 (72%) questionnaires were returned and, of these, 41 (95%) were usable. Patients reported that fibromyalgia had altered their sexual relationship. They cited pain, stiffness, fatigue, reduced sexual drive and the impact of drug therapy as the main reasons.

Conclusion The symptoms associated with fibromyalgia had a negative effect on sexual enjoyment. The questionnaire appears to be useful in addressing sexuality in patients with fibromyalgia.

Correspondence sarah.ryan@stokepct.nhs.uk

Nursing Standard. 23, 2,35-41. doi: 10.7748/ns2008.09.23.2.35.c6669

Published in print: 17 September 2008

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review