setting treatment image

How do I set meaningful treatment goals?

Setting treatment goals for your patients with FM involves assessing symptom severity and prioritizing the functional areas and/or symptoms to be treated.

Key points for setting treatment goals1

  • A main benefit of goal setting in FM management is that it helps provide a starting point for the treatment plan and focuses the patient on targeted functional outcomes. It also provides structure for follow-up visits

    • For instance, if the patient decides to walk 10 minutes a day or participate in aquatic therapy class, either activity might serve as a goal to track at each visit

    • Visits become more streamlined as patients begin to anticipate the questions you may ask and know what is expected of them

Prioritizing patient goals2

  • Appropriate goals for FM management are

    • Specific, realistic, and measurable

    • Reflect the patient's priorities

    • Have a target date for completion

    • Aim for improved functionality in key domains

  • To help ensure that specific goals are realistic, assess potential barriers and help the patient problem-solve to minimize them

    • Once you and the patient agree on a particular goal, you can ask the patient if he or she can imagine anything that might interfere with accomplishing that goal

    • If barriers are identified, you can brainstorm about ways to prevent the problem and increase the likelihood that
      the patient will attain his or her goal

A patient who states her goal is to "feel better" needs to be guided to a more specific goal. For example, ask, "What will you be doing so that you and I will both know that you are feeling better?" Once identified, this more measurable objective becomes the target goal as opposed to "feeling better."

References:

1. McCarberg BH. Fibromyalgia management for the primary care provider. In: McCarberg BH, Clauw DJ, eds. Fibromyalgia. New
York, NY: Informa Healthcare; 2009:152-158.

2. Filoramo MA. Improving goal setting and goal attainment in patients with chronic noncancer pain. Pain Manag Nurs.
2007;8(2):96-101.