The role of fear-avoidance beliefs in acute low back pain: relationships with current and future disability and work status.

Journal Article (Clinical Trial;Journal Article)

Fear-avoidance beliefs have been identified as an important psychosocial variable in patients with chronic disability doe to low back pain. The importance of fear-avoidance beliefs for individuals with acute low back pain has not been explored. Seventy-eight subjects with work-related low back pain of less than 3 weeks'duration were studied. Measurements of pain intensity, physical impairment, disability, nonorganic signs and symptoms, and depression were taken at the initial evaluation. Fear-avoidance beliefs were measured with the work and physical activity subscales of the Fear-avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire. Disability and work status were re-assessed after 4 weeks of physical therapy. Patterns of correlation between fear-avoidance beliefs and other concurrently-measured variables were similar to those reported in patients with chronic low back pain. Fear-avoidance beliefs did not explain a significant amount of the variability in initial disability levels after controlling for pain intensity and physical impairment. Fear-avoidance beliefs about work were significant predictors of 4-week disability and work status even after controlling for initial levels of pain intensity, physical impairment, and disability, and the type of therapy received. Fear-avoidance beliefs are present in patients with acute low back pain, and may be an important factor in explaining the transition from acute to chronic conditions. Screening for fear-avoidance beliefs may be useful for identifying patients at risk of prolonged disability and work absence.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Fritz, JM; George, SZ; Delitto, A

Published Date

  • October 1, 2001

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 94 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 7 - 15

PubMed ID

  • 11576740

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0304-3959

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/S0304-3959(01)00333-5


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States