A research team led by Dr. Robert Bennett of the Oregon Health Sciences Health Laboratory found in a study that FM patients who believe their doctors are serious about treating their symptoms may improve both physically and emotionally.
The research team questioned over 100 Fibromyalgia patients on how they perceived the attitudes of past and current physicians who treated them. Dr. Bennett wanted to find out if the patient’s perception of how seriously their doctor takes a diagnosis impacted the symptoms and severity of their illness.
The survey measured:
- Each patient’s symptoms, the severity, and how well the patient felt their physician understood their symptoms.
- To what extent patients thought they could meet their doctors’ expectations when it came to managing and dealing with their illness.
Patients were then asked to apply and rate statements on a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree regarding their past and current doctors. Here are two of the statements on the survey:
- Sometimes my physician doesn’t understand how seriously ill I am.
- I feel hurt at times when my physician assumes that I can get better if I really wanted to.
Patients were also asked to evaluate how victimized they felt by their illness and rate how much control over their pain and fatigue they felt on a scale of 1 – 10.
Patients stated that their current physician took their illness much more seriously than past physicians.
Patients who believed their doctor took them seriously reported less fatigue and stiffness. These patients also woke up feeling more rested, felt they had greater control over their pain, had less anxiety and had an overall better sense of well-being.
The patients who felt their doctor did not take their illness seriously reported higher levels of anxiety and none of the beneficial effects achieved by a caring doctor.
Dr. Bennett said:
“Patients may improve both physically and psychologically under the care of a physician who takes their illness seriously, whereas a negative past attitude continues to adversely influence their psychological health.”
I have went through many of the doctors in the beginning of my illnesses who didn’t believe they existed and in fact I did get worse. Why? Because for one, if they don’t believe that you are truly sick, they don’t treat you. Secondly, the stress of not having someone believe you no matter how sick you truly are is detrimental to your health. Stress alone is a health threat, let alone when you are already sick it’s just that much worse. Then you begin to question yourself: Am I really sick? Maybe it’s all in my head like the doctor says.” Then you are back and forth with, “No, I know that I am sick. I’m not a mental case!” Just the mind games alone are enough to send us into a flare.
It’s great to see that this research does show that times are changing and FM patients are being treated better by their physicians.