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Struggling With Adversities of Life: The Role of Forgiveness in Patients Suffering from Fibromyalgia

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Abstract

Objectives:

We compared the magnitude and direction of associations between forgiveness and pain, mental and physical health, quality of life, and anger in a sample of fibromyalgia syndrome (FM) participants and healthy controls. In addition, we compared FM and controls on mean levels of these variables.

Materials and Methods:

A total of 173 individuals with FM and 81 controls completed this study. FM participants and controls were residents of Germany recruited with the support of the German Fibromyalgia Patient Association and several self-help groups. FM participants and controls were about 53 years of age, mostly married (70%), Christians (81%), with levels of education ranging from 9 to 13+ years. All participants completed assessments of forgiveness, pain, health, quality of life, and anger.

Results:

Analyses revealed that FM participants reported higher pain and anger and poorer health and quality of life. FM participants also reported lower levels of both forgiveness of self and others. Size and direction of associations of forgiveness with pain, health, quality of life, and anger in were not significantly different between healthy individuals and individuals with FM.

Discussion:

Forgiveness of self and others is beneficially associated with pain, health, quality of life, and anger in FM participants at levels that are of similar size and direction as in healthy controls. However, FM participants manifest lower levels of forgiveness of self and others. Therapeutic promotion of forgiveness as a psychosocial coping strategy may help patients with FM to better manage psychological and physical symptoms, thereby enhancing well-being.

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