• Journal Article

Economic cost and epidemiological characteristics of patients with fibromyalgia claims


Robinson, R. L., Birnbaum, H. G., Morley, M. A., Sisitsky, T., Greenberg, P. E., & Claxton, A. (2003). Economic cost and epidemiological characteristics of patients with fibromyalgia claims. Journal of Rheumatology, 30(6), 1318-1325.


OBJECTIVE: Fibromyalgia (FM) is characterized by widespread pain that can lead to significant patient disability, complex management decisions for physicians, and economic burden on society. We investigated the total costs of FM in an employer population. METHODS: Administrative claims data of a Fortune 100 manufacturer were used to quantify direct (i.e., medical and pharmaceutical claims) and indirect (i.e., disability claims and imputed absenteeism) costs associated with FM. A total of 4699 patients with at least one FM claim between 1996 and 1998 were contrasted with a 10% random sample of the overall beneficiary population. Employee-only subsets of both samples also were drawn. RESULTS: Medical utilization, receipt of prescription drugs, and annual total costs were proportionately similar yet significantly greater among FM claimants than the overall sample (all p < 0.0001). Total annual costs for FM claimants were $5945 versus $2486 for the typical beneficiary (p < 0.0001). Six percent of these costs were attributable to FM-specific claims. The prevalence of disability was twice as high among FM employees than overall employees (p < 0.0001). For every dollar spent on FM-specific claims, the employer spent another $57 to $143 on additional direct and indirect costs. CONCLUSION: Hidden costs of disability and comorbidities greatly increase the true burden of FM. Regardless of the clinical understanding of FM, when a claim for FM is present, considerable costs are involved. Findings suggest that within the management of FM there may be large cost-offset opportunities for reductions in patient, physician, and employer burdens