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Pain. 2006 Oct;124(3):305-11. Epub 2006 Jun 5.

Fear-avoidance beliefs about back pain in patients with subacute low back pain.

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  • 1Service de Médecine Physique et Réadaptation, Hôpital Cochin (AP-HP), Université Paris 5, Institut Federatif de Recherche sur le Handicap (IFR 25) INSERM, 27 rue du Faubourg Saint-Jacques, 75679 Paris Cedex 14, France.


The fear-avoidance beliefs of patients with subacute low back pain (LBP) considered at risk for chronic disabling LBP are not well known. The objectives of this cross-sectional descriptive survey, conducted in secondary care practice, were to assess fear-avoidance beliefs about back pain in patients with subacute LBP and to seek an association between physician or patient characteristics and level of fear-avoidance beliefs. A total of 286 rheumatologists completed a self-administered questionnaire assessing physicians' demographic, professional data, personal history of back pain, and back pain fear-avoidance beliefs (on the Fear-Avoidance Belief Questionnaire [FABQ]) and 443 patients with sLBP completed one on pain, perceived handicap and disability (Quebec Back Pain Disability Scale), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety Depression questionnaire), and back pain beliefs (FABQ). Mean FABQ scores for rheumatologists for physical activities (FABQ Phys) and occupational activities (FABQ Work) were 9.2+/-4.4 (range 0-21) and 16.7+/-6.9 (range 2-37), respectively, and patient scores were 16.7+/-5.2 and 19.3+/-12.4, respectively. A total of 68% of patients and 10% of physicians had a high rating on the FABQ Phys (>14). Patients' fear-avoidance beliefs about physical activity were associated with low level of education (odds ratio [OR] 4.19; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.83-9.57), patients' perceived disability (OR 1.05; CI 1.03-1.07), and physicians' high FABQ Phys score (OR 5.92; CI 1.31-26.32). Here we show that fear-avoidance beliefs about back pain were high in patients with subacute LBP and their rheumatologists.

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