Original report

Perceived exertion at work in women with fibromyalgia: Explanatory factors and comparison with healthy women

Annie Palstam, Anette Larsson , Jan Bjersing, Monika Löfgren , Malin Ernberg, Indre Bileviciute-Ljungar, Bijar Ghafouri , Anna Sjörs, Britt Larsson, Björn Gerdle, Eva Kosek, Kaisa Mannerkorpi
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-1843


Objective: To investigate perceived exertion at work in women
with fibromyalgia.
Design: A controlled cross-sectional multi-centre study.
Subjects and methods: Seventy-three women with fibromyalgia and 73 healthy women matched by occupation and physical workload were compared in terms of perceived exertion at work (0–14), muscle strength, 6-min walk test, symptoms rated by Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), work status (25–100%), fear avoidance work beliefs (0–42), physical activity at work (7–21) and physical workload (1–5). Spearman’s correlation coefficient and linear regression analysis were conducted.
Results: Perceived exertion at work was significantly higher in the fibromyalgia group than in the reference group (p = 0.002), while physical activity at work did not differ between the groups. Physical capacity was lower and symptom severity higher in fibromyalgia compared with references (p < 0.05). In fibromyalgia, perceived exertion at work showed moderate correlation with physical activity at work, physical workload and fear avoidance work beliefs (rs = 0.53–0.65, p < 0.001) and a fair correlation with anxiety (rs = 0.26, p = 0.027). Regression analysis indicated that the physical activity at work and fear avoidance work beliefs explained 50% of the perceived exertion at work.
Conclusion: Women with fibromyalgia perceive an elevated exertion at work, which is associated with physical work-related factors and factors related to fear and anxiety.

Supplementary content