A study of new experimental symptom reduction program for fibromyalgia sponsored by the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (grant #R44AR052640-02) has recently been completed. “The Fibromyalgia Wellness Project” is a web-based intervention program that employs a novel approach using online self-monitoring and individualized feedback to help users discover how they can reduce their symptoms. The user visits the website for a few minutes, several times each week, for several weeks. With each visit they mark certain health-related behaviors, health management strategies they would like to track (including treatments, drugs, etc.), and symptom levels over the past 24 hours. Over time their responses build a personal database for that user.
The program then analyzes the user’s personal data to identify what behavior patterns or strategies are tied to lower symptom levels for that individual. This enables the user to compare different strategies (for example, changing bed times, trying different foods or self-care practices, types of exercise, drugs, dose levels, etc.) and get objective feedback about what works best to reduce their symptoms.
“Fibromyalgia is a ‘one size fits one’ condition – no one approach works the same for everyone. We want to help people discover what works best for them as a unique individual,” Collinge states. “It’s really a journey of personal discovery to learn how you can reduce symptoms and improve well-being in your own situation.” One person’s optimal strategies may also change over time, he says, making it even more valuable to get objective feedback about what’s working and what isn’t.
Phase II of the project was completed in 2011 and we are now working on developing a web-based system of delivery of the program on a wide basis. Watch this page for announcements of when the program will become available.
William Collinge, Ph.D., Collinge and Associates
Fred Friedberg, Ph.D., State University of New York Stonybrook, Department of Psychiatry
Don Goldenberg, M.D., Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Tufts Medical School
Rob Soltysik, M.S., Optimal Data Analysis, LLC, Severn, MD
Paul Yarnold, Ph.D., Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine