Vol 9, No 3 (2023)
Research paper
Published online: 2023-06-19

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Comparison of the prevalence of fibromyalgia in pre-clinical and clinical years among medical students of the Collegium Medicum of the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn

Michalina Knapik1, Paulina Gisman1, Natalia Phatthana1, Daniel Żelazo1, Magdalena Krajewska-Włodarczyk2
Rheumatology Forum 2023;9(3):105-111.


Introduction: Fibromyalgia is a chronic soft tissue rheumatic disease of unknown aetiology and marked by chronic, multi-sited pain persisting for at least three months and concomitant fatigue. The pathogenesis is still not precisely understood; disturbances of biochemical, metabolic, and immunological processes are suspected, and the impact of chronic stress is also undeniable. This study aims to compare the prevalence of fibromyalgia among students of different years of medical course at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn.
Material and methods: The Fibromyalgia Survey Questionnaire (FSQ) incorporating the 2011 and 2016 diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia was used for the survey. Questionnaires were distributed in hard copy during lectures (1–2 years of study) or credits (3–6 years of study).
Results: A total of 451 students representing all years were surveyed, sequentially from the first (n = 125), second (n = 96), third (n = 80), fourth (n = 62), fifth (n = 68) and sixth years (n = 20). Seventeen respondents (3.77%) met the diagnostic concriteria for fibromyalgia according to the ACR 2016. In the pre-clinical years, fibromyalgia w as slightly more frequent, however, the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.1867). In contrast, in the pre-clinical years there was a statistically significantly higher prevalence of symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, trouble thinking or memory problems, waking up feeling tired, and pain in various parts of the spine. Also, students in their pre-clinical years were significantly more likely to meet fibromyalgia criteria such as symptom severity scale, widespread pain index and duration of symptoms of more than 3 months.
Conclusions: Although this study did not reveal an increased incidence rate of fibromyalgia among medical students compared to the general population, nor was there a statistically significant difference in terms of the prevalence of fibromyalgia between the first two years of study and the remaining years of study, it clearly highlighted the reduced quality of life in this population group.

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