Psychological Variables Predict Disability From Back Pain

Adapted model finds emotional distress, cognitive appraisal, and fear of work are disability predictors
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term disability from low back pain (LBP) may be prevented by targeting interventions to several psychological variables, according to research published in the June 1 issue of Spine.

Manon Truchon, Ph.D., of the Université Laval in Québec City, and colleagues conducted a 12-month cohort study of 439 Canadian workers on sick leave for subacute common LBP. The purpose of the study was to determine whether the five components of an adaptation of the recently adopted stress process model could be used as predictive variables for outcomes among LBP patients.

Two components from the adapted stress process model -- 'Cognitive Appraisal of LBP' and 'Emotional Distress' -- were identified as predictive factors of number of days of absence at 12 months and functional disability at six and 12 months. Fear of work, one of the control variables, played a role in the prediction of LBP outcomes, particularly in work status. The researchers conclude that these variables could be targets for psychological interventions for prevention of the development of long-term LBP disability.

"The adapted stress process model suggested that psychological variables act differently according to the variable predicted and to the period of time considered. Use of such theoretical models could lead to a better understanding of the development of long-term disability and to improvement of our capacity to predict this complex phenomenon," the authors write.

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