Pain-related fear in low back pain: a prospective study in the general population

M. Leeuw*, R.M.A. Houben, R. Severeijns, H.S. Picavet, E.G.W. Schouten, J.W.S. Vlaeyen

*Corresponding author for this work

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A cognitive behavioural account of chronic low back pain (CLBP) proposes that the relationship between pain catastrophizing and functional disability is mediated by fear of movement/(re)injury. Several clinical studies already demonstrated the contribution of pain catastrophizing and fear of movement/(re)injury in the development and maintenance of CLBP. This study included people with low back pain (LBP) in the general population, and aimed to investigate whether fear of movement/(re)injury mediated the relationship between pain catastrophizing and functional disability, by examining several prerequisites for mediation. Data from the Dutch population-based Musculoskeletal Complaints and Consequences Cohort (DMC3) study were used, including 152 people suffering from LBP who completed both a follow-up questionnaire and a baseline questionnaire 6 months previously. This study was unable to demonstrate that the relationship between pain catastrophizing and functional disability was mediated by fear of movement/(re) injury, since the prerequisite that pain catastrophizing and functional disability were related, was not fulfilled. However, pain catastrophizing was significantly related to fear of movement/ (re)injury 6 months later, above and beyond other contributing variables such as fear of movement/(re)injury already present at baseline. On its turn, fear of movement/(re)injury was related to functional disability, in addition to pain intensity. Although this study leaves some indistinctness concerning the actual relationships between pain catastrophizing, fear of movement/(re)injury, and functional disability, it does provide some evidence for the contributing role of these factors in LBP in the general population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-266
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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