Do depression and pain intensity interfere with physical activity in daily life in patients with Chronic Low Back Pain?

I.P.J. Huijnen*, A.M.C.F. Verbunt, M.L. Peters, P.A.E.G. Delespaul, H.P.J. Kindermans, J. Roelofs, M.E.J.B. Goossens, H.A.M. Seelen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Patients with chronic pain may have difficulties estimating their own physical activity level in daily life. Pain-related factors such as depression and pain intensity may affect a patients' ability to estimate their own daily life activity level. This study evaluates whether patients with Chronic Low Back Pain (CLBP) who are more depressed and/or report more pain indeed have a lower objectively assessed daily life activity level or whether they only perceive their activity level as lower. Patients with CLBP were included in a cross-sectional study. During 14 days physical activity in daily life was measured, with both an electronic diary and an accelerometer. Multilevel analyses were performed to evaluate whether a higher level of depression and/or pain intensity was associated with a lower objectively assessed activity level or the discrepancy between the self-reported and objectively assessed daily life activity levels. Results, based on 66 patients with CLBP (mean RDQ score 11.8), showed that the objectively assessed daily life activity level is not associated with depression or pain intensity. There was a moderate association between the self-reported and objectively assessed activity levels (beta = 0.39, p <0.01). The discrepancy between the two was significantly and negatively related to depression (beta = -0.19, p = 0.01), indicating that patients who had higher levels of depression judged their own activity level to be relatively low compared to their objectively assessed activity level. Pain intensity was not associated with the perception of a patient's activity level (beta = 0.12, ns).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-166
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • Chronic Low Back Pain
  • Activity-related behaviour
  • Accelerometry
  • Depression
  • Diary assessment

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