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Original research
Factors promoting physical activity in women with fibromyalgia: a qualitative interview study
  1. Anette Larsson,
  2. Caroline Feldthusen,
  3. Kaisa Mannerkorpi
  1. Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Section of Health and Rehabilitation, Physiotherapy, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Anette Larsson; anette.e.larsson{at}


Objectives To gain deeper knowledge of factors promoting physical activity in women with fibromyalgia.

Design A qualitative study based on semistructured in-depth individual interviews. Analysed using qualitative content analysis.

Participants Fourteen women with fibromyalgia, age 38–65, recruited from a previous randomised controlled trial investigating the effects of person-centred progressive resistance exercise compared with relaxation therapy.

Setting Interviews were conducted in a hospital setting.

Results The analysis resulted in four categories: a desire to be physically active, finding the proper level and creating proper conditions, managing pain and getting it done.

Conclusion This study reveals several factors both personal and environmental, which promote the ability to be physically active when living with pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia. The participants expressed that, although they had a desire to be physically active, they needed support and guidance from a professional with adequate knowledge to help them find the proper level of exercise. They also expressed a need for the professional to understand their preferences, and to use these preferences as a basis for creating the proper conditions, helping them learn to manage pain and supporting them in getting the exercise done.

  • fibromyalgia
  • physical activity
  • qualitative analysis
  • physiotherapy
  • interview

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  • Contributors AL and KM conceived the research idea and study design. AL recruited the participants and conducted the initial derivation of meaning units. AL, CF and KM performed the analysis. AL produced an initial draft of the manuscript. AL, CF and KM commented on and edited the manuscript and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by the University of Gothenburg Centre for Person-Centred Care (, The Healthcare Board, Region Västra Götaland (Hälso- och sjukvårdsstyrelsen), the Local Research and Development Council, Södra Älvsborg and Wilhelm and Martina Lundgrens Vetenskapsfond.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Regional Ethical Review Board in Gothenburg (ref. 060-16). Oral and written information was given to all participants and written consent was obtained from all participants.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.