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The Key Role of Pain Catastrophizing in the Disability of Patients with Acute Back Pain

Abstract

Purpose

This study investigated the role of anxiety sensitivity, resilience, pain catastrophizing, depression, pain fear-avoidance beliefs, and pain intensity in patients with acute back pain-related disability.

Method

Two hundred and thirty-two patients with acute back pain completed questionnaires on anxiety sensitivity, resilience, pain catastrophizing, fear-avoidance beliefs, depression, pain intensity, and disability.

Results

A structural equation modelling analysis revealed that anxiety sensitivity was associated with pain catastrophizing, and resilience was associated with lower levels of depression. Pain catastrophizing was positively associated with fear-avoidance beliefs and pain intensity. Depression was associated with fear-avoidance beliefs, but was not associated with pain intensity. Finally, catastrophizing, fear-avoidance beliefs, and pain intensity were positively and significantly associated with acute back pain-related disability.

Conclusion

Although fear-avoidance beliefs and pain intensity were associated with disability, the results showed that pain catastrophizing was a central variable in the pain experience and had significant direct associations with disability when pain was acute. Anxiety sensitivity appeared to be an important antecedent of catastrophizing, whereas the influence of resilience on the acute back pain experience was limited to its relationship with depression.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by grants from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (PSI2008-01803/PSIC) and the Andalusian Regional Government (HUM-566; P07-SEJ-3067).

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Correspondence to C. Ramírez-Maestre.

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Ramírez-Maestre, C., Esteve, R., Ruiz-Párraga, G. et al. The Key Role of Pain Catastrophizing in the Disability of Patients with Acute Back Pain. Int.J. Behav. Med. 24, 239–248 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12529-016-9600-9

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Keywords

  • Acute pain
  • Anxiety sensitivity
  • Fear-avoidance beliefs
  • Catastrophizing
  • Resilience
  • Disability