Study designs of evaluations included in the review
Study design needed to include randomisation to two or more independent study groups. Studies with a within-subjects design, or where group allocation was not truly random, were excluded. Owing to the nature of the interventions being evaluated, the participants were blinded in only 6 of the 25 studies.
Specific interventions included in the review
At least one of the interventions or modalities evaluated in the study needed to be considered as non-pharmacological in action (i.e. based on physical, educational or psychological principles). Both explanatory (the efficacy of an intervention compared with no treatment or placebo under carefully controlled conditions) and pragmatic studies (the relative effectiveness of two or more interventions under conditions more akin to everyday clinical practice) were included in the review.
Participants included in the review
The studies needed to evaluate the treatment or management of FMS (or 'fibrositis'), as indicated by the use of recognised diagnostic criteria. Studies of the treatment of allied conditions, such as myofascial pain syndrome, were excluded.
Outcomes assessed in the review
No specific outcomes were given as the inclusion criteria. A range of outcome variables were assessed using a range of assessment tools, including validated checklists, visual analogue scales and patient experience measurements. All but one study measured subjective pain as an outcome. Fourteen of the 25 studies measured sleep disturbance and 10 measured fatigue. Only 11 studies specifically measured function.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
The authors do not state how the papers were selected for the review, or how many of the reviewers performed the selection.