Background: Fibromyalgia, a persistent, widespread pain condition, significantly limits physical function, threatening an older adult’s health and ability to live independently.
Objectives: The aim of the study was to identify predictors of physical function in older adults living with fibromyalgia and to examine the influence of resilience on the relationship between fibromyalgia pain and physical function.
Methods: This was a descriptive correlational, cross-sectional design using mailed questionnaires to analyze relationships between health-related variables and physical function in a convenience sample of community-dwelling older adults diagnosed with fibromyalgia (n = 224; age M = 62.1 years, SD = 6.75 years). Multiple regression was used to identify a priori predictors of physical function; hierarchical multiple regression was used to examine resilience as a moderator of pain and physical function.
Results: The sample was predominantly women, Caucasian, married, well educated, had moderate levels of income and tangible social support, and had low levels of physical function. Three-fourths were overweight or obese. Despite impaired physical function (Late Life Function and Disability Index, M = 51.5/100, SD = 9) and moderate levels of pain (Numeric Rating Scale, M = 5.47/10, SD = 2.6), resilience was moderately high (Resilience Scale, M = 137/175, SD = 20). An eight-variable disablement-based model accounted for 48% of variance in physical function: age, income, education, depressive symptoms, body mass index, and physical activity accounted for 31%; pain added 14%; and resilience contributed an additional 3%. Resilience was not a moderator of fibromyalgia pain and physical function; resilience did contribute uniquely to physical function variance.
Discussion: Resilience, a novel variable in fibromyalgia research, was a unique predictor of physical function. Further research is needed to learn more about the relationships between resilience, fibromyalgia impact, and the aging process.