Volume 33, Issue 4, December 2022

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Mediterr J Rheumatol 2022;33(4):407-12
Fibromyalgia among University Students: A Vulnerable Population
Authors Information
  1. Department of Internal Medicine, St. Vincent’s Medical Centre, Bridgeport, CT, United States of America
  2. Department of Family Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre-Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA, United States of America
  3. Department of Internal Medicine, St. Vincent Charity Medical Centre, Cleveland, OH, United States of America
  4. Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
  5. Department of Internal Medicine, American University of Beirut Medical Centre, Beirut, Lebanon

Background: Fibromyalgia (FM), a complex musculoskeletal disorder, can affect individuals from different genders having different genetic and psychosocial backgrounds. The prevalence of FM depends specifically on the age, gender, and level of stress of the individual. Since the university student body tackles high levels of academic and non-academic stress, we aimed to assess the prevalence and characteristics of FM among such a vulnerable population. Methods: A survey was sent to participants from two major English-speaking private universities in Lebanon; the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Lebanese American University (LAU). The survey included the modified American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 2016 criteria, the widespread pain index (WPI), the symptoms severity score (SSS), and the duration of presence of such FM symptoms. In addition, the survey evaluated the presence of other specific musculoskeletal disorders among participants. Nevertheless, a 12-item general healthy questionnaire (GHQ-12) was used to assess the presence of anxiety, depression, social dysfunction, and loss of confidence among participants. Results: The survey was sent to a total of 2178 students with 184 complete responses (8.45% response rate). The prevalence of FM among the respondents was 13.6%. Students with FM had a significant personal history of a musculoskeletal disorder other than FM and a significant family history of musculoskeletal disorders. The mean SSS score of the target population, including those with FM and those without FM, was 4.5. Patients with FM were significantly in distress and highly symptomatic as measured by GHQ-12 (Unadjusted OR 3.23 [95% CI 1.32-7.95]). Conclusion: Fibromyalgia seems to be prevalent among university students; in particular, those with other musculoskeletal disorders, those with a family history of musculoskeletal disorders, and those with severe depression and anxiety.

Cite this article as: El Hasbani G, Ibrahem M, Haidous M, Chaaya M, Uthman IW. Fibromyalgia among University Students: A Vulnerable Population. Mediterr J Rheumatol 2022;33(4):407-12.

Article Submitted: 1 Feb 2022; Revised Form: 17 June 2022; Article Accepted: 30 Jun 2022; Available Online: 31 Dec 2022


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