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Fibromyalgia and the risk of a subsequent motor vehicle crash


Objective — Motor vehicle crashes are a widespread contributor to mortality and morbidity, sometimes related to medically unfit motorists. We tested whether patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia (FM) have an increased risk of a subsequent serious motor vehicle crash.

Methods — We conducted a population-based, self-matched longitudinal cohort analysis to estimate the incidence rate ratio of crashes among patients diagnosed with FM relative to the population norm in Ontario, Canada. We included adults diagnosed from April 1, 2006, to March 31, 2012, excluding individuals younger than 18 years, living outside Ontario, lacking valid identifiers, or having only a single visit for the diagnosis. The primary outcome was an emergency department visit as a driver involved in a motor vehicle crash.

Results — The patients (n = 137,631) accounted for 738 crashes during the first year of followup after diagnosis, equal to an incidence rate ratio of 2.44 compared with the population norm (95% CI 2.27–2.63, p < 0.001). The crash rate was more than twice the population norm for those with a new or a persistent diagnosis. The increased risk included patients with diverse characteristics, approached the rate observed among other patients diagnosed with alcoholism, and was mitigated among those who received dedicated FM care or a physician warning for driving safety.

Conclusion — A diagnosis of FM is associated with an increased risk of a subsequent motor vehicle crash that might justify medical interventions for traffic safety.



Redelmeier DA, Zung JD, Thiruchelvam D, Tibshirani RJ. J Rheumatol. 2015; 42(8):1502-10. Epub 2015 May 15.

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