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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Improvement in multiple dimensions of fatigue in patients with fibromyalgia treated with duloxetine: secondary analysis of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial

Lesley M Arnold1, Fujun Wang2, Jonna Ahl3, Paula J Gaynor4 and Madelaine M Wohlreich4*

Author Affiliations

1 Women's Health Research Program, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 222 Piedmont Avenue, Suite 8200, Cincinnati, OH 45219, USA

2 Statistics, MedImmune, LLC, 35 W. Watkins Mill Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20878, USA

3 Scientific Communications, Lilly USA, LLC, Drop Code 4125, Indianapolis, IN 46285, USA

4 Clinical Research, Lilly USA, LLC, Drop Code 4125, Indianapolis, IN 46285, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2011, 13:R86  doi:10.1186/ar3359

Published: 13 June 2011



Fatigue is one of the most disabling symptoms associated with fibromyalgia that greatly impacts quality of life. Fatigue was assessed as a secondary objective in a 2-phase, 24-week study in outpatients with American College of Rheumatology-defined fibromyalgia.


Patients were randomized to duloxetine 60-120 mg/d (N = 263) or placebo (N = 267) for the 12-week acute phase. At Week 12, all placebo-treated patients were switched to double-blind treatment with duloxetine for the extension phase. Fatigue was assessed at baseline and every 4 weeks with the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI) scales: General Fatigue, Physical Fatigue, Mental Fatigue, Reduced Activity, and Reduced Motivation. Other assessments that may be associated with fatigue included Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) average pain, numerical scales to rate anxiety, depressed mood, bothered by sleep difficulties, and musculoskeletal stiffness. Treatment-emergent fatigue-related events were also assessed. Changes from baseline to Week 12, and from Week 12 to Week 24, were analyzed by mixed-effects model repeated measures analysis.


At Week 12, duloxetine versus placebo significantly (all p < .05) reduced ratings on each MFI scale, BPI pain, anxiety, depressed mood, and stiffness. Improvement in ratings of being bothered by sleep difficulties was significant only at Weeks 4 and 8. At Week 24, mean changes in all measures indicated improvement was maintained for patients who received duloxetine for all 24 weeks (n = 176). Placebo-treated patients switched to duloxetine (n = 187) had significant within-group improvement in Physical Fatigue (Weeks 16, 20, and 24); General Fatigue (Weeks 20 and 24); Mental Fatigue (Week 20); and Reduced Activity (Weeks 20 and 24). These patients also experienced significant within-group improvement in BPI pain, anxiety, depressed mood, bothered by sleep difficulties, and stiffness. Overall, the most common (> 5% incidence) fatigue-related treatment-emergent adverse events were fatigue, somnolence, and insomnia.


Treatment with duloxetine significantly improved multiple dimensions of fatigue in patients with fibromyalgia, and improvement was maintained for up to 24 weeks.

Trial registration registry NCT00673452.