FM patients more likely to have motor vehicle crashes

People with fibromyalgia are almost two and half times more likely to have a motor vehicle accident compared to the general population, a study finds.

The analysis of 137,631 patients with fibromyalgia (FM) identified 738 motor vehicle crashes during the first year of follow-up after diagnosis. This was equal to an incidence rate ratio of 2.44 compared with the population norm.

The increased risk approached the rate observed among other people diagnosed with alcoholism, the researchers reported in the Journal of Rheumatology.

However the risk was mitigated among patients who received dedicated FM care, the Canadian researchers found.

These patients had a high baseline risk amounting to 854 crashes during the three years before special care (9.81 events per 1000 patients annually).

Dedicated care reduced their risk of being involved in an accident by one-third, but the risk was still high at an incidence rate ratio of 3.11 compared with the population norm.

The researchers conclude that people diagnosed with FM are at an ongoing risk of a serious motor vehicle crash.

However they caution that the data does not indicate that FM caused motor vehicle crashes because patients may differ in multiple ways from other people.

“The observed association between FM and subsequent crashes is a prognostic marker, but not necessarily a causal mechanism,” they wrote.

“Clinical judgment is needed…when deciding whether the crash risks associated with FM merit a tactful warning in a compassionate manner to improve driving safety and maintain patient health,” they said.

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