Skip to main content

Factors associated with temporary work disability in patients with fibromyalgia


Temporary work disability (TWD) is more common in patients with fibromyalgia (FM) than among the rest of the workers. To describe the differences between patients who take sick leave (TWD group) and those who continue to work regularly (control group). To determine what factors are associated with TWD. Multicentre, cross-sectional study with a cohort of patients with FM seen in rheumatology clinics throughout Spain. The following information was recorded: demographic data, clinical manifestations, comorbidities, health self-perception, emotional issues, functional capacity, physical function tests, utilization of healthcare resources, TWD during the past 12 months, and quitting paid employment due to the disease. Descriptive statistics was used to compare variables between the TWD group and the control group. A logistic regression analysis was done to determine which factors are associated with TWD. The study cohort was composed of 301 patients with FM (women: 96.7%) with a mean age of 48.7 ± 8.5 years and a disease duration of 11.5 ± 9.1 years. There were 56.8% active workers, of whom 67.8% had had some TWD. The mean TWD length was 44 ± 69.6 days/year. TWD correlated significantly with sedentary work, clinical manifestations, comorbidities, self-perceived health, poor functional capacity, physical function, and healthcare resource utilization. The factors independently associated with TWD are sedentary work, more clinical manifestations, fatigue, and poor flexibility. Of the cases of people who quit their jobs, 66.9% were associated with FM. TWD in patients with FM is associated with sedentary work, a worse clinical situation, and worse functional capacity.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Burckhardt CS, Clark SR, Bennett RM (1993) Fibromyalgia and quality of life: a comparative analysis. J Rheumatol 20:475–479

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Rivera J, Rejas J, Esteve-Vives J, Vallejo MA, Grupo ICAF (2009) Resource utilization and health care costs in patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in Spain. Clin Exp Rheumatol 27(sup. 56):S39–S45

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Penrod JR, Bernatsky S, Adam V, Baron M, Dayan N, Dobkin PL (2004) Health services costs and their determinants in women with fibromyalgia. J Rheumatol 31:1391–1398

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Sicras-Mainar A, Rejas J, Navarro R, et al (2009) Treating patients with fibromyalgia in primary care settings under routine medical practice: a claim database cost and burden of illness study. Arthritis Res Ther 11(2):R54. Epub 2009 April 14

    Google Scholar 

  5. Kivimäki M, Leino-Arjas P, Kaila-Kangas L et al (2007) Increased absence due to sickness among employees with Fibromyalgia. Ann Rheum Dis 66:65–69

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. White LA, Birnbaum HG, Kaltenboeck A, Tang J, Mallett D, Robinson RL (2008) Employees with fibromyalgia: medical comorbidity, healthcare costs, and work loss. J Occup Environ Med 50:13–24

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Abásolo L, Carmona L, Lajas C et al (2008) Prognostic factors in short-term disability due to musculoskeletal disorders. Arthritis Rheum 59:489–496

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. White KP, Speechley M, Harth M, Østbye T (1999) The London fibromyalgia epidemiology study: direct health care cost of fibromyalgia syndrome in London, Canada. J Rheumatol 26:885–889

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Henriksson C, Liedberg G (2000) Factors of importance for work disability in women with fibromyalgia. J Rheumatol 27:1271–1276

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Reisine S, Fifield J, Walsh SJ, Feinn R (2003) Do employment and family work affect the health status of women with fibromyalgia? J Rheumatol 30:2045–2053

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Reisine S, Fifield J, Walsh S, Forrest D (2008) Employment and health status changes among women with fibromyalgia: a five-year study. Arthritis Rheum 59:1735–1741

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Wolfe F, Smythe HA, Yunus MB et al (1990) The American College of Rheumatology 1990 criteria for the classification of fibromyalgia. Arthritis Rheum 33:160–172

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Catálogo Nacional de Ocupaciones. Instituto Nacional de Estadística.

  14. Oliver K, Cronan TA, Walen HR, Tomita M (2001) Effects of social support and education on health care costs for patients with fibromyalgia. J Rheumatol 28:2711–2719

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Robinson RL, Birnbaum HG, Morley MA, Sisitsky T, Greenberg PE, Claxton AJ (2003) Economic cost and epidemiological characteristics of patients with fibromyalgia claims. J Rheumatol 30:1318–1325

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Boonen A, van den Heuvel R, van Tubergen A et al (2005) Large differences in cost of illness and wellbeing between patients with fibromyalgia, chronic low back pain, or ankylosing spondylitis. Ann Rheum Dis 64:396–402

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Suoyrjö H, Oksanen T, Hinkka K et al (2009) A comparison of two multidisciplinary inpatient rehabilitation programmes for fibromyalgia: a register linkage study on work disability. J Rehabil Med 41:66–72

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Wolfe F, Anderson J, Harkness D et al (1997) Work and disability status of persons with fibromyalgia. J Rheumatol 24:1171–1178

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Lledó Boyer A, Mira Pastor MA, Calatayud NP, Lopez-Roig S, Cantero Terol MC (2009) Comparing fibromyalgia patients from primary care and rheumatology settings: clinical and psychosocial features. Rheumatol Int 29:1151–1160

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


Milena Gobbo and Unidad de Investigación de la Fundación Española de Reumatología, for their technical support. The work reported in this paper has been financed by Pfizer Laboratorios and Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria (FIS) PI 07/0202 of Spanish Ministry of Health.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Corresponding author

Correspondence to J. Rivera.



Grupo ICAF: Alegre C (Hospital Vall de Hebrón, Barcelona), Alperi M (Hospital General de Asturias, Oviedo), Ballina FJ (Hospital General de Asturias, Oviedo), Belenguer R (Hospital 9 de Octubre, Valencia), Belmonte M (Hospital General de Castellón, Castellón), Beltrán J (Hospital General de Castellón, Castellón), Blanch J (Hospital IMAS, Barcelona), Collado A (Hospital Clinic, Barcelona), Fernández Dapica P (Hospital U. 12 de Octubre, Madrid), Francisco Hernández FM (Hospital Dr. Negrín, Gran Canaria), García Monforte A (Hospital GU Gregorio Marañón, Madrid), González Hernández T (IPR, Madrid), González Polo J (Hospital U. La Paz, Madrid), Hidalgo C (Centro Reumatológico, Salamanca), Mundo J (Hospital Clinic, Barcelona), Muñoz Carreño P (Hospital General, Guadalajara), Queiró R (Hospital General de Asturias, Oviedo), Riestra N (Hospital General de Asturias, Oviedo), Salido M (Clínica CLINISAS, Madrid), Vallejo I (Hospital Clinic, Barcelona), Vidal J (Hospital General, Guadalajara).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rivera, J., Esteve-Vives, J., Vallejo, M.A. et al. Factors associated with temporary work disability in patients with fibromyalgia. Rheumatol Int 31, 1471–1477 (2011).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: