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Women with fibromyalgia struggled to gain integrity, understanding, symptom relief, and freedom in their everyday lives

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QUESTION: For women, what is the meaning of living with fibromyalgia?


A phenomenological hermeneutic study.


An outpatient rheumatological clinic in a large hospital in northern Sweden.


14 women aged 35–50 years (mean age 43 y) with fibromyalgia (American College of Rheumatology criteria) who had been treated at the clinic were recruited by purposive sampling. The women had experienced symptoms for 1–25 years and had been diagnosed for 0.5–6 years.


Before clinical treatment, individual narrative interviews of 15–60 minutes were done. Women were asked to talk about symptoms, daily life, relationships with others, and thoughts and feelings about fibromyalgia. Audiotaped interviews were transcribed verbatim, reviewed for accuracy, and analysed using naïve understanding and structural analysis. This process began with naïve reading, aimed at acquiring a sense of …

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  • Sources of funding: Faculty of Medicine at Umeå University, Sweden; the county council of Norrbotten, Sweden; and the Samverkansnämden, Sweden.

  • For correspondence: Dr S Söderberg, The Department of Health Science, Hedenbrovägen, S-961 36 Boden, Sweden. Fax +46 921 75850. Email: Siv.Soderberg{at}