Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 267–281 | Cite as

Illness and Treatment Perceptions of Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: Characteristics and Relation to Individual, Disease and Interaction Variables

  • Katja HeyduckEmail author
  • Cornelia Meffert
  • Manuela Glattacker


The significance of various cognitive and psychosocial factors in the development, progression and persistence of chronic low back pain (CLBP) is well demonstrated. However, only a few studies have addressed CLBP patients’ cognitive representations or beliefs about their disease and its treatment. The present study aimed to: (1) describe the illness and treatment beliefs of patients with CLBP, e.g., expected timeline, controllability or treatment related concerns; and (2) explore the relation of these illness and treatment beliefs to individual-, disease- and interaction-related variables. We conducted a cross-sectional survey with N = 201 patients at four inpatient rehabilitation centers. The characteristics of illness and treatment perceptions were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Multiple regression analysis was used to test the associations with disease-related, individual-related and interaction-related variables. The results demonstrated large inter-individual variability in the illness and treatment perceptions among patients with CLBP and pointed to several associations with disease-related variables, patients’ personal characteristics and interaction experiences. The variables most strongly related to individuals’ perceptions were those reflecting disease severity and individual disease experience. Further research is needed on CLBP patients’ illness and treatment perceptions, and these personal disease experiences should be considered when designing new treatment approaches.


Illness perceptions Treatment perceptions Common sense model of self-regulation Chronic low back pain 



The project “Bedarfsgerechte Patienteninformation auf der Basis subjektiver Konzepte” (Individualized patient information following patient’s illness beliefs and treatment beliefs in the context of rehabilitation) was funded by the German Pension Insurance in the funding priority “Patient-oriented Research”. We would like to thank the funders, the cooperating centers Fachklinikum Sachsenhof (Bad Elster), Rehabilitationsklinik Moorbad Bad Doberan (Bad Doberan), Sankt-Rochus-Kliniken (Bad Schönborn), Schön Klinik Harthausen (Bad Aibling), and the participating patients.

Conflict of Interest

Katja Heyduck, Cornelia Meffert and Manuela Glattacker declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katja Heyduck
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cornelia Meffert
    • 1
  • Manuela Glattacker
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Quality Management and Social MedicineMedical Center - University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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