The Effect of Anger Management and Communication Training on Functional and Quality-of-Life Status in Fibromyalgia Patients

Alexandra Michele Stillman, Utah State University


Fibromyalgia syndrome (PMS) is a debilitating condition that affects millions of

individuals throughout the world. As of yet the specific etiology of this condition remains unknown

and successful treatments remain in their infancy. Although several studies have focused on the

emotional components of fibromyalgia, none have specifically addressed the issues of

communication and anger that appear to be important among this patient population. The

objectives of this study were to design a 4-week experimental group therapy treatment based on

successful cognitive behavioral components and add anger management and communication

components in an attempt to increase benefits to the overall well-being of patients.

Subjects were 46 fibromyalgia patients recruited from physicians, chiropractors, and

physical therapists as well as through newspaper, radio, and advertising through flyers. Patients

who were accepted into the study were randomly assigned to either a treatment group or a wait-list

control group, with the control group receiving the treatment in the month following the treatment

group. Outcomes were assessed using a repeated measures analysis of variance with one within

(time) and one-between subjects (group) factor. The five assessment measures utilized in this study

were the Fibrornyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), the Short-Form 36 (SF-36) Version 2, the

Chronic Pain Self-Efficacy Survey (CPSS), the State Trait Anger Expression Inventory- 2

(ST AXI-2) and a communication inventory developed specifically for this intervention. Specific

outcomes measured included change on fibromyalgia-specific symptoms and physical and

emotional health-related status, improvement in communication, change in anger scores, and

changes in levels of self-efficacy.

Analysis of patient outcome data revealed that significant results were achieved. in the

areas of mental health and communication variables. In addition, several notable effect sizes were

also found, particularly in the areas of vitality (-.97), mental health (-.76) and pain management (-

1.17). Results demonstrated that a brief, cost-effective 4-week intervention can have a beneficial

impact for FMS patients in the area of psychological function. Implications of these findings are

discussed within the context of the existing literature on fibromyalgia treatment as well as in terms

of possible limitations of the study as it was conducted.