Intervention Therapies to Reduce Pain-Related Fear in Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials

Javier Martinez-Calderon, Mar Flores-Cortes, Jose Miguel Morales-Asencio, Alejandro Luque-Suarez
Pain Medicine 2020 September 29

OBJECTIVE: This systematic review aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of different interventions at reducing pain-related fear in people with fibromyalgia and to analyze whether the included trials reported their interventions in full detail.

DESIGN: Systematic review.

SETTING: No restrictions.

METHODS: The Cochrane Library, CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Scopus were searched from their inception to April 2020, along with manual searches and a gray literature search. Randomized clinical trials were included if they assessed pain-related fear constructs as the primary or secondary outcome in adults with fibromyalgia. Two reviewers independently performed the study selection, data extraction, risk-of-bias assessment, Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) checklist assessment, and grading the quality of evidence.

RESULTS: Twelve randomized clinical trials satisfied the eligibility criteria, including 11 cohorts with a total sample of 1,441 participants. Exercise, multicomponent, and psychological interventions were more effective than controls were in reducing kinesiophobia. However, there were no differences in decreasing kinesiophobia when self-management and electrotherapy were used. There were also no differences between groups with regard to the rest of the interventions and pain-related constructs (fear-avoidance beliefs, fear of pain, and pain-related anxiety). However, a serious risk of bias and a very serious risk of imprecision were detected across the included trials. This caused the overall certainty of the judged evidence to be low and very low. Additionally, the included trials reported insufficient details to allow the full replication of their interventions.

CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review shows that there are promising interventions, such as exercise, multicomponent, and psychological therapies, that may decrease one specific type of fear in people with fibromyalgia, i.e., kinesiophobia. However, because of the low-very low certainty of the evidence found, a call for action is needed to improve the quality of randomized clinical trials, which will lead to more definitive information about the clinical efficacy of interventions in this field.

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