Objective: To examine the relation of age with symptom severity and quality of life (QOL) in patients with fibromyalgia, and to compare physical and mental health of our female patients with those of the US female general population. Patients and Methods: We studied 978 patients with fibromyalgia from May 1, 2001 through April 30, 2004, and divided them into age groups of young (≤39 years), middle-aged (40-59 years), and older (>60 years). They completed the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire and the Short Form-36 Health Status Questionnaire (SF-36). Standardized SF-36 physical and mental health summary scores were compared with those of the US female general population of similar age. One-way analysis of variance and post hoc paired t test analyses were performed to detect differences across age groups. Results: Pairwise comparison found young and middle-aged patients having worse fibromyalgia symptoms in all subscales except the anxiety subscale compared with older patients (P<.01). Similarly, these young and middle-aged patients had worse QOL in the SF-36 mental component summary, as well as SF-36 general health perceptions, vitality, social functioning, and mental health index, compared with older patients (all P<.001). When the QOL of our female patients was compared with that of the US female general population of similar age with standardized SF-36 scores, all age groups had lower QOL in physical, as well as mental, health, with more reduction in physical health, particularly in young patients. Conclusion: Our study shows that symptom severity and QOL differ across age groups in patients with fibromyalgia, with young and middle-aged patients having poorer QOL and worse fibromyalgia symptoms than do older patients. QOL in physical health was reduced more than in mental health, particularly in young patients, compared with the general population.
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