Fibromyalgia: Diagnosis

Department of Health written question – answered on 13 June 2016.

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Photo of David Simpson David Simpson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps his Department is taking to improve diagnosis levels for fibromyalgia; and what steps his Department is taking to increase training for GPs on diagnosis of that condition.

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be difficult as there is no specific diagnostic test that can be used, and the symptoms can vary from person to person. Diagnosis is usually made by taking a medical history, checking symptoms and carrying out a physical examination. Blood tests, x-rays and other scans may be used to rule out medical conditions with similar symptoms to fibromyalgia.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) curriculum includes training in musculoskeletal conditions, and as such, general practitioner (GP) training can include fibromyalgia. A key component of a trainee GP’s final assessment, alongside the Clinical Skills Assessment and Workplace Based Assessment, is the applied knowledge test (AKT). The AKT is a summative assessment of the knowledge base that underpins independent general practice in the United Kingdom within the context of the National Health Service. The content guide for the RCGP, which serves to prepare trainees for the test, includes a specific reference to a required knowledge of fibromyalgia. The AKT content guide can be found at the following link:

A range of support exists to help GPs identify the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia in primary care. This includes the Map of Medicine, an online evidence-based guide and clinical decision support tool which has a fibromyalgia and chronic pain pathway to support diagnosis and referral, an e-learning course developed by the RCGP and Arthritis Research UK on musculoskeletal care, including fibromyalgia, and a medical guide developed by the Fibromyalgia Association UK for health professionals.

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