(HealthDay News) – Multidisciplinary treatment adapted for women with low educational levels is superior to conventional pharmacotherapy in reducing key symptoms of fibromyalgia (FM), including sleep disturbances, catastrophizing, and psychological distress, according to research published online Aug 16 in Arthritis Care & Research.

Antoni Castel, of the University Hospital of Tarragona Joan XXIII in Spain, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial of 155 women between the ages of 18 and 60 years with a diagnosis of FM to evaluate the efficacy of multidisciplinary treatment adapted for patients with low educational levels and to determine the durability of therapeutic benefit. One group received conventional pharmacologic treatment and the other group received multidisciplinary treatment, including pharmacologic treatment, education, physical therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

The researchers found that, compared with the group receiving conventional pharmacotherapy, statistically significant improvement was noted in women in the multidisciplinary treatment group. Furthermore, the improvements in sleep disturbance, catastrophizing, and psychological distress were maintained one year after treatment had ended.

“In conclusion, a multidisciplinary treatment program for FM that combines pharmacological treatment, education, physical therapy and CBT (the contents of which have been adapted for patients with low educational levels and applied in a group format in a non-hospital environment) has demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of the key symptoms of FM and the long-term maintenance of these improvements,” the authors write.

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