Unique Barriers and Needs in Weight Management for Obese Women with Fibromyalgia

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Abstract

Research Question:

The aim of this study was to identify barriers, needs, and preferences of weight management intervention for women with fibromyalgia (FM).

Theoretical Framework:

Obesity appears in higher rates in women with fibromyalgia compared to the population at large, and no study to date has taken a qualitative approach to better understand how these women view weight management in relation to their disease and vice versa.

Methodology:

We designed a qualitative interview study with women patients with FM and obesity.

Context:

Women (N = 15) were recruited by their participation in a fibromyalgia treatment program (FTP) within the year prior.

Sample Selection:

The women approached for the study met the following inclusion criteria: confirmed diagnosis of FM, age between 30 and 60 years (M = 51 ± 6.27), and body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 (M = 37.88 ± 4.87).

Data Collection:

Patients completed questionnaire data prior to their participation in focus groups (N = 3), including weight loss history, physical activity data, the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR), and the Patient Health Questionnaire 9-item (PHQ-9). Three focus group interviews were conducted to collect qualitative data.

Analysis and Interpretation:

Consistent themes were revealed within and between groups. Patients expressed the complex relationships between FM symptoms, daily responsibilities, and weight management. Weight was viewed as an emotionally laden topic requiring compassionate delivery of programming from an empathetic leader who is knowledgeable about fibromyalgia. Patients view themselves as complex and different, requiring a specifically tailored weight management program for women with FM.

Main Results:

Women with FM identify unique barriers to weight management, including the complex interrelationships between symptoms of FM and health behaviors, such as diet and exercise. They prefer a weight management program for women with FM that consists of an in-person, group-based approach with a leader but are open to a tailored conventional weight management program. Feasibility may be one of the biggest barriers to such a program both from an institutional and individual perspective.

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