Personality Traits in Fibromyalgia (FM): Does FM Personality Exists? A Systematic Review

Ciro Conversano1, *, Laura Marchi1, Rebecca Ciacchini1, Claudia Carmassi3, Bastianina Contena4, Laura Maria Bazzichi2, Angelo Gemignani1
1 Department of Surgical, Medical and Molecular Pathology, Critical and Care Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
2 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Rheumatologic Clinic, University of Pisa, via Roma 67, 56100 Pisa, Italy
3 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, via Roma 67, 56100 Pisa, Italy
4 Department of Health Science, University of Florence, Florence, Italy

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© 2018 Conversano et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Surgical, Medical and Molecular Pathology, Critical and Care Medicine, via Roma 67, 56100 Pisa, Italy, Tel: +3382694718; E-mails:;



Fibromyalgia (FM) is the second most common rheumatic disease with many effects on patient's quality of life. It has been described as a chronic condition characterized by widespread musculo-skeletal pain, sleep disorders and prominent fatigue. Regarding the role of personality factors in fibromyalgia, researchers have focused both on personality traits and psychopathological aspects showing inconsistent results. In particular, several studies have examined the role of alexithymia in FM patients, a trait of personality characterized by difficulty in identification, recognition and description of emotions and feelings, while others have focused on a specific type of personality, such as type D personality (distressed personality). Other studies investigated personality in FM patients referring to Cloninger’s model, a psychobiological model of personality that includes both temperamental and character dimensions of personality. Analyzing scientific literature on this subject seems well suited to provide a critical review of the latest studies and their results.


The method used for this review satisfies the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). We identified PsycInfo and PubMed as databases for our research.


Personality is studied under many aspects and a reference model is not always present. Many studies underline high levels of alexithymia and type D personality in FM patients but when depression is controlled, these results do not differ from those of healthy controls.


Studies that use a comprehensive model of personality present a different theoretical approach and use alternatively the Big-Five model, Eysenck’s and Cloninger’s models. The use of a comprehensive model of personality and the control of psychopathological disorders, such as anxiety and depression, seem to be very relevant for a better understanding of a specific personality profile associated with fibromyalgia.

Keywords: Fibromyalgia, Personality traits, Personality model, Personality, Chronic pain, FM patients.