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Student Research Guide:Fibromyalgia: Home

by Danya Teichner Stewart

Destigmatizing Fibromyalgia



  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hidden Illness

Healthcare Community:

  • Client
  • Clinicians
  • Doctor
  • Healthcare Community
  • Healthcare Provider
  • Healthcare Worker
  • Patient
  • Physician
  • Primary Care
  • Sufferer


  • Assumption
  • Bias
  • Judgment
  • Opinion
  • Prejudice
  • Presumption 
  • Public Perception
  • Social Stigma
  • Stereotype
  • Stigma


  • Diagnostic Criteria
  • Educate
  • Inform
  • Self-advocacy
  • Self-advocate
  • Self-representation
  • Teach
  • Train


Introduction to the Topic of Destigmatizing Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a central sensitivity syndrome and a possible pain processing disorder in the brain's pathways. It is considered one of the “invisible diseases” due to the absence of visible symptoms. However, FM patients may experience various symptoms such as widespread muscle and joint pain, headaches, restless leg syndrome, fatigue, sleep disorders, and impaired cognitive function, commonly referred to as “fibro fog”. Very little is known about what causes FM, and there is no cure. FM is difficult to diagnose and treat, given that there is not a confirmed diagnostic test available. Without a proven method of diagnosing and imperceivable symptoms, many patients with FM face the scrutiny of their peers, family, and, at times, their healthcare providers. 

Thesis: The stigma of fibromyalgia can complicate patients' lives in many aspects, diminishing their quality of life. 

Research Questions: 

  • What do researchers know about fibromyalgia?

  • What are some common assumptions about patients with fibromyalgia, and how do those assumptions provide the foundation for stigma?

  • How does skepticism towards fibromyalgia in the medical community impact patients? 

  • Why do some people see fibromyalgia as a “woman’s disease”? 

  • How can patients self-advocate when faced with medical professionals who question the validity of fibromyalgia?


SciShow Psych. (2018, October 2). Real Pain and 'Explosive' Brains: Fibromyalgia [Video]. YouTube.

Start Your Research Here

This article from The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine provides basic background information about fibromyalgia. The article also provides information regarding key terms associated with fibromyalgia. While the article is not lengthy, it defines fibromyalgia and discusses possible causes and symptoms. The first drug approved by the FDA for fibromyalgia, Lyrica, is mentioned along with a few other treatments.

This article is a great place to start any research involving fibromyalgia. It has concise information giving readers a well-rounded introduction to the topic. The article briefly describes the disease, symptoms, treatments, facts, etc.

Best Databases/Search Engines

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