What is the role of perceived self-efficacy in the etiology of fibromyalgia?

Updated: Apr 23, 2020
  • Author: Chad S Boomershine, MD, PhD, CPI, CPT; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Perceived self-efficacy is the level of confidence that the patient requires to control pain effectively. People with high self-efficacy beliefs engage in coping behaviors until success is achieved. People with low self-efficacy beliefs anticipate failure and stop using effective coping strategies. Higher coping self-efficacy is associated with less negative mood and less pain.

Treatments that improve coping reduce pain and enhance a positive mood. However, excessive use of active coping may actually be detrimental in patients with fibromyalgia who have low self-efficacy for pain control.

Self-efficacy may be a significant determinant of pain itself, particularly with respect to its emotional arousal and unpleasant effects. In a study of patients with osteoarthritis, those scoring high for self-efficacy about arthritis pain control exhibited higher thresholds and tolerance for thermal pain compared with those who had low scores. [66] Conversely, maladaptive coping strategies, such as catastrophizing about pain, worsen the pain experience, especially with respect to the development of depression.

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