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Most information about fibromyalgia available on the internet is incomplete and may be difficult to understand for laypersons, especially as it relates to symptoms, causes, associated conditions, and treatments, a research study reveals.
Websites developed by non-profit organizations are the ones that provide the most complete information, researchers found.
These findings were described in a report, “Accuracy, completeness and accessibility of online information on fibromyalgia,” published in the journal Rheumatology International.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease characterized by widespread pain and fatigue, but it also has been associated with cognitive impairments and affective symptoms including mood changes, depression, and anxiety disorders. Studies have demonstrated that several environmental and clinical factors may contribute to the development of fibromyalgia.
The underlying mechanisms involved in fibromyalgia development and progression are still poorly understood. This, added to the multifaceted nature of this disease, makes diagnosis a challenge for physicians.
It is estimated that in each 20-25 individuals one person is affected by fibromyalgia. However, many more may endure this life-changing disease due to lack of awareness and absence of a formal diagnosis.
“Individuals with fibromyalgia can be easily dismissed, stigmatized, and left alone to self-manage their illness,” researcit hers wrote.
For many fibromyalgia patients is preferable to look for information online, where they won’t feel the impact of lack of understanding and support from others. Indeed, recent reports suggest “fibromyalgia is the most common medical search term within the U.K., with fibromyalgia symptoms of primary interest according to Google trends on [Aug. 14, 2018],” researchers reported.
Although online information can be very helpful for patients to better understand their disease and treatment options, websites may offer incomplete information or in forms that can be misinterpreted.
A team led by researchers from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School in the U.K., reviewed the completeness and trustworthiness of available online information on fibromyalgia. They did an online Google.co.uk search for “fibromyalgia“ and analyzed 148 webpages among the first 200 results.