Experiences of patients with fibromyalgia at a Finnish Health Centre: A qualitative study

Aleksi Varinen, Tiina Vuorio, Elise Kosunen, Tuomas H. Koskela

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Background: Fibromyalgia is a functional syndrome. Despite recent findings, there is still considerable uncertainty about its diagnostic process. Objectives: This study aimed to explore patients’ experiences with fibromyalgia during the diagnostic process in primary health care. Moreover, we tried to determine how diagnostic consultation could be improved. Methods: This study is based on data from patients with fibromyalgia in a primary health care study conducted in Nokia, Finland. Patients with fibromyalgia were identified from electronic medical records. Focus-group participants with fibromyalgia diagnoses were selected using a purposive sampling method to gather a maximum variation sample. Qualitative thematic analysis was used for the coded data from four focus-group discussions in 2018. A description of the coding tree was provided and researchers organised the codes. Finally, all researchers identified themes from the data. Results: The main unifying entities were the uncertainty and contradictions fibromyalgia patients faced on several occasions. Physicians sometimes offered other diagnoses–like depression–as an explanation for the symptoms, or used repetitive tests to eliminate other possible diagnoses. Furthermore, patients expressed their wishes for a holistic, empathetic, and up-to-date approach to their symptoms. Conclusion: In our interviews, a good doctor-patient relationship and continuity of care were necessary, as were the physician’s attitude and knowledge of fibromyalgia. Our findings also suggest avoiding repeated or unnecessary rule-out tests and the overdiagnosis of psychiatric disorders is necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-164
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • continuity of care
  • doctor-patient relationship
  • Fibromyalgia
  • focus group
  • qualitative study

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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