Life history of women with fibromyalgia: Beyond the illness

Barbara Gonzalez, Telmo M. Baptista, Jaime C. Branco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome, which mostly affects middle age women and whose etiological factors remain unclear. Psychosocial aspects may have a relevant role as predisposing, triggering, and/or perpetuating factors for this syndrome, raising the interest about life history of patients with fibromyalgia. In this study, we interviewed 10 women with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, who had identified a critical or very stressful life event before the onset of the syndrome. The interview about the life history comprises the whole life, before and after the onset of the syndrome, and the narratives were analyzed with interpretative phenomenological analysis. Nine themes emerged: struggle, focus on adversities, positive overlaps the negative, scars of unhappy childhood, help others, perfectionism and desire to achieve, unsatisfactory present, perception of injustice, and keep feelings inside. A difficult life history is prevalent in these women and the themes identified are discussed in their relation with other qualitative studies and their possible role as predisposing and perpetuating factors for fibromyalgia. The ability to value the positive side of things, despite the adversities these women emphasized, is highlighted as an aspect to explore in psychological intervention, to enable a better management of this syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-540
Number of pages15
JournalQualitative Report
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • Chronic pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA)
  • Life history
  • Psychology


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