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Knowledge, Awareness, and Perceptions of the Diagnosis and Management of Fibromyalgia Among Physical Therapists in Saudi Arabia: A Cross-Sectional Survey

Authors Alodiabi F, Alhowimel A, Alotaibi M, Alamam D, Fritz JM

Received 30 September 2020

Accepted for publication 12 November 2020

Published 30 November 2020 Volume 2020:12 Pages 293—301


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Chuan-Ju Liu

Faris Alodiabi,1 Ahmed Alhowimel,2 Mazyad Alotaibi,2 Dalyah Alamam,1 Julie M Fritz3

1College of Applied Medical Sciences, Health Rehabilitation Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; 2Department of Health and Rehabilitation Science, Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University, Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia; 3Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Correspondence: Faris Alodiabi
College of Applied Medical Sciences, Health Rehabilitation Sciences, King Saud University, 22480, Riyadh 11495, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Tel +966 14676176
Fax +966 14676162
Email falodaibi@KSU.EDU.SA

Aim: To explore awareness of the diagnostic criteria and management of fibromyalgia (FM) among physical therapists practicing in Saudi Arabia.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was distributed electronically among musculoskeletal physical therapists. It was designed based on the research literature relevant to FM and reviewed by two rheumatologists for accuracy and comprehension. The survey included two sections: participants’ demographic information and questions related to FM. The data were described using absolute and relative frequencies.
Results: A total of 234 physical therapists accepted the invitation to participate in the study, and 52 were excluded for not satisfying the inclusion criteria or not completing the survey. Responses were received from March to May 2020; only 118 (65%) respondents completed the FM section. The average age of the participants was 31.2 (SD=6.9) years, and 36% were females. Eighty percent reported seeing fewer than five patients with FM in the past year; 51% acquired FM-related knowledge through self-learning; half reported having little to no confidence in their FM assessments and management; and less than 20% were familiar with common diagnostic criteria and management guidelines for FM.
Conclusion: Participating physical therapists showed little awareness of or confidence in the assessment and management of patients with FM; moreover, their awareness was not supported by their adherence to recent FM guidelines. Despite the common practice of referring patients with FM for physical therapy, there are many misconceptions about FM. This study highlights the need for educational programs to provide up-to-date evidence in undergraduate and postgraduate education.

Keywords: fibromyalgia, physical therapy, awareness, knowledge, Saudi Arabia

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