Somatic comorbidity and younger age are associated with life dissatisfaction among patients with lumbar spinal stenosis before surgical treatment


The objective of the study was to examine self-reported life satisfaction and associated factors in patients (n=100) with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) in secondary care level, selected for surgical treatment. Life satisfaction was assessed with the four-item Life Satisfaction scale. Depression was assessed with a 21-item Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Psychological well-being was assessed with Toronto Alexithymia Scale and Sense of Coherence Scale. LSS related physical functioning and pain were assessed with Oswestry disability index, Stucki questionnaire, Visual Analogue Scale and pain drawings. All questionnaires were administered before surgical treatment of LSS. Results showed that 25% of the patients with LSS were found to be dissatisfied with life. In a univariate analysis, smoking, elevated subjective disability scores and extensive markings in the pain drawings were more common in the dissatisfied patients. The dissatisfied patients also showed lower coping resources, elevated alexithymia and depression scores, and were more often depressed. In multiple logistic regression analyses, only younger age and somatic comorbidity were associated with life dissatisfaction. This association remained significant even when the BDI score was added into the model. No other significant associations emerged. In conclusion, life dissatisfaction was rather common among preoperative LSS patients. Pain and constraints on everyday functioning were important correlates of life dissatisfaction. However, only younger age and somatic comorbidity were independently associated with life dissatisfaction. These results emphasize the importance of recognizing and assessing the effect of coexisting medical conditions and they need to be addressed in any treatment program.

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We thank Ewen MacDonald (University of Kuopio, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology) for language checking. S. Sinikallio wishes to thank the Finnish Cultural Foundation for financial support. T. Aalto wishes to thank docent Jaakko Rinne, the Head of the Department of Neurosugery in Kuopio University Hospital for co-ordination in the recruitment phase of the study. The study design was reviewed and approved by the Ethics Committee of University of Kuopio and Kuopio University Hospital, Finland and experiments were in compliance with Finnish law.

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Correspondence to Sanna Sinikallio.

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Sinikallio, S., Aalto, T., Airaksinen, O. et al. Somatic comorbidity and younger age are associated with life dissatisfaction among patients with lumbar spinal stenosis before surgical treatment. Eur Spine J 16, 857–864 (2007).

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  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Life satisfaction
  • Somatic comorbidity