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Web-based Education to Enhance Fibromyalgia Management

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00423631
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : January 18, 2007
Last Update Posted : October 10, 2011
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
David A. Williams, University of Michigan

Brief Summary:

Fibromyalgia (FMS) a condition marked by pain, fatigue, and memory complaints, is considered a chronic condition and is most commonly treated or managed using medications. Previous studies have found benefit in adding cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a non-medication intervention, to standard care in order to obtain better outcomes in terms of improved functional status and symptom reduction. While the addition of CBT to standard care has been shown to be beneficial, it is not a form of therapy that is widely available to patients with FMS. CBT includes a variety of skills that can be taught to patients to help in the management of chronic illnesses. This protocol will examine the relative merits of providing these CBT skills to patients via an informational website. The website will contain the content of CBT, a social support capability, and data transfer capabilities. The addition of this website to standard care will be compared to standard care alone. This study is interested in assessing improvements in physical functional status, the symptoms of FMS, and the relative costs of the interventions as compared to the savings in health care utilization over a 6-month period.

Primary Hypothesis The primary hypothesis of this study is that the number of patients with fibromyalgia who are able to achieve clinically meaningful improvements in physical function will be greater when standard symptom-based pharmacological care is augmented by CBT skills delivered through an educational website.

Secondary Hypotheses

  1. The proportion of patients with fibromyalgia who are able to achieve clinically meaningful improvements in symptoms of FMS such as pain, fatigue, and perceived cognitive difficulties will be greater when standard symptom-based pharmacological care is augmented by CBT skills delivered through an educational website
  2. The proportion of patients with fibromyalgia who are able to achieve clinically meaningful improvements in mood and beliefs about pain will be greater when standard symptom-based pharmacological care is augmented by CBT skills delivered through an educational website

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Fibromyalgia Fibrositis Behavioral: Standard care and web Behavioral: Standard Care Not Applicable

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Detailed Description:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a therapeutic approach that uses specific techniques to produce behavioral and cognitive change. CBT is not a singular approach to all problems; rather it is a set of techniques that can be tailored for specific problems. The techniques falling under the rubric of CBT have in common a scientific foundation based in learning and cognitive principles. The techniques used to change behavior are based on principles of classical and operant conditioning (e.g. extinction, positive and negative reinforcement, shaping, prompts), and observational learning. The techniques used to produce cognitive change are based largely on the development of problem solving skills and principles of attributional change (Craighead, Craighead, Kazdin, & Mahoney, 1994).

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective in the management of symptoms for a wide range of chronic medical illnesses (Compas, Haaga, Keefe, Leitenberg, & Williams, 1998; Emmelkamp & van Oppen, 1993; Gil et al., 1996)(1994; Emmelkamp et al., 1993; Turner & Romano, 1990; Gil et al., 1996; Keefe, 1996) including Fibromyalgia (Bradley, 1989; Nielson, Walker, & McCain, 1992; White & Nielson, 1995; Goldenberg, Kaplan, & Nadeau, 1994; Nielson et al., 1992; White et al., 1995; Goldenberg et al., 1994) and related conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome (Sharpe et al., 1996; Deale, Chalder, Marks, & Wessely, 1997; Deale, Chalder, Marks, & Wessely, 1997). The rationale for using CBT with FMS stems from the assumption that pain and suffering is the result of a complex integration of pathophysiology, cognition, affect, and behavior (Keefe, 1996). Modification of any one of these four factors can positively or negatively impact the course of the persistent medical condition.

When applied to patients having fibromyalgia, CBT has been shown to be associated with both short-term (3 weeks) and long-term (30 months) improvements in pain, distress, and perceived control over pain (Nielson et al., 1992; White et al., 1995; White et al., 1995). Several other investigations of CBT have demonstrated improvements in depression, pain behaviors, and tenderness (Nicassio et al., 1997), as well as knowledge of fibromyalgia and coping with pain (Vlaeyen et al., 1996). While the latter two studies did not demonstrate a superiority of CBT over educational approaches, a meta-analytic review concluded that psychological interventions for fibromyalgia in general produced effect sizes that exceeded those of physical therapy or pharmacological interventions for outcomes such as symptoms, mental health, and physical functioning (Rossy et al., 1999). The latter outcome, a sustained improvement in physical functioning, was the most difficult outcome to achieve for patients with fibromyalgia using any form of intervention. One recent study however demonstrated that 1-year sustained improvements in physical functional status were three times more likely in patients that attended a brief course of CBT than if they received only symptom-based pharmacological care (Williams, 2002).

New Advances in CBT Delivery Despite the demonstrated effectiveness of combining pharmacological interventions with CBT, integration of CBT into mainstream clinical practice for FMS has been slow. Barriers have not been due to lack of demonstrated efficacy, but rather to economic and administrative issues such as the lack of CPT codes for applying a psychological intervention for a physical illness, difficulties administering a time-intensive psychological intervention to populations that must travel long distances each week to obtain the intervention, and the lack of sufficient numbers of trained professionals to deliver the intervention on a large scale (Muehrer, 2000).

A current technology, Internet websites, has been implemented in an effort to overcome some of the barriers that have prevented the delivery of clinical services to FMS populations.

Healthcare Websites E-learning, the use of a website for education without the use of a live instructor, has become a popular method for educating the lay-public, for offering classes for credit and for continuing education online, and for training employees new job skills. Numerous websites exist that purport to improve health. Some of these sites simply provide information about illness, others provide interactive preprogrammed advice, and some send tailored health messages to patients.

The current study will seek to evaluate the effectiveness of using traditional standard care with standard care plus Internet web-based educational programming. This will be one of the largest randomized controlled trials to use web-based learning and should help to identify the feasibility of using this modality to augment standard care for the FMS community.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 118 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Internet-Enhanced Management of Fibromyalgia
Study Start Date : September 2006
Actual Primary Completion Date : April 2008
Actual Study Completion Date : April 2008

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

MedlinePlus related topics: Fibromyalgia

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Standard Care and Web
Standard care plus a web site based on cognitive behavioral principals.
Behavioral: Standard care and web
A static web site containing cognitive and behavioral self management instructions.

Active Comparator: Standard Care
Subject recieve standard care from their primary care provider.
Behavioral: Standard Care
Standard care delivered by the primary care provider.

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Clinically meaningful improvements in physical function (as measured by the SF-36). [ Time Frame: baseline to 6 months ]
  2. Clinically meaningful improvements in symptoms of FMS such as pain, fatigue, and perceived cognitive difficulties (as measured by the McGill, MFI and MASQ). [ Time Frame: baseline to 6 months ]
  3. Clinically meaningful improvements in mood and beliefs about pain (as measured by the CES-D, STPI, CSQ and BPCQ) [ Time Frame: baseline to 6 months ]

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. To determine whether treatment adherence is superior in one of the treatment arms of the study, and whether adherence is related to improved outcomes. [ Time Frame: baseline to 6 months ]
  2. To determine whether treatment satisfaction is superior in one of the treatment arms of the study, and whether that satisfaction is related to improved outcomes [ Time Frame: Baseline to 6 months ]
  3. To determine post hoc, the characteristics of the individuals that achieved treatment success versus those that did not, to better identify the factors that contribute to positive outcomes in this spectrum of illness. [ Time Frame: Baseline to 6 months ]

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 70 Years   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No


The study sample will be drawn from a population of individuals diagnosed with fibromyalgia in a five state region consisting of North and South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

Subjects will be recruited into the study by practicing physicians either at the main hospital in Sioux Falls or in any of 15 affiliated rural clinic study sites. In order to be included in the study, potential subjects must meet the study inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Ability to travel to Sioux Falls, SD for study visits.
  2. All subjects must fulfill the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia as established by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990 (Wolfe et al., 1990)
  3. Be 18 years of age
  4. All subjects must have been in standard medical care with a physician for at least 3 months.
  5. Subjects must have a home computer or access to a computer with the following features:

    • An Internet browser that is Internet Explorer version 5.0 or higher.
    • Printer
    • Speakers or headphones
    • Ability to use e-mail and access to the Internet
  6. Subjects must be able to perform the following screening test designed to assess computer ability:

    • Go to a webpage Log in to a website
    • Click on an icon
    • Click on a radio button to answer a multiple choice question
    • Fill a name into a text box
    • Click on a submit button
    • Print a document

Exclusion Criteria:

Subjects will be excluded from participation if they have any of the following:

  1. A severe physical impairment that precludes receiving/using the website or using the CBT skills contained on the website (e.g. complete blindness)
  2. Co-morbid medical illnesses capable of causing a worsening of physical functional status independent of fibromyalgia (e.g. morbid obesity, autoimmune diseases,) cardiopulmonary disorders (e.g. angina, congestive heart failure, COPD, chronic asthma), uncontrolled endocrine or allergic disorders (e.g. thyroid dysfunction, Type I diabetes), and malignancy within 2 years.
  3. Any present psychiatric disorder involving a history of psychosis (e.g. schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, delusional disorder etc.), current suicide risk or attempt within 2 years of the study, or substance abuse within 2 years. Note: Subjects with mood disorders will not be excluded.
  4. Prior face to face CBT for pain management.
  5. Receiving or applying for or considering seeking disability payments.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT00423631

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United States, South Dakota
Avera Research Institute
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States, 57105
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of Michigan
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Principal Investigator: David A Williams, PhD University of Michigan


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Responsible Party: David A. Williams, Professor, University of Michigan Identifier: NCT00423631     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: DAMD 17-002-0018, A-9356.1
First Posted: January 18, 2007    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: October 10, 2011
Last Verified: October 2011
Keywords provided by David A. Williams, University of Michigan:
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Myofascial Pain Syndromes
Muscular Diseases
Musculoskeletal Diseases
Rheumatic Diseases
Neuromuscular Diseases
Nervous System Diseases