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Eur J Pain. 2007 Nov;11(8):869-77. Epub 2007 Mar 13.

The relation between cognitive factors and levels of pain and disability in chronic low back pain patients presenting for physiotherapy.

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Department of Physiotherapy, North Manchester General Hospital, Delauneys Road, Crumpsall, Manchester M8 5RB, UK.


The aim of this study was to determine the extent to which a number of distinct cognitive factors were differentially related to the levels of pain and disability reported by 183 chronic low back pain (CLBP) patients presenting for physiotherapy. After adjusting for demographics, the cognitive factors accounted for an additional 30% of the variance in pain intensity, with functional self-efficacy (beta=-0.40; P<0.001) and catastrophizing (beta=0.21; P<0.01) both uniquely contributing to the prediction of outcome. The cognitive factors also explained an additional 32% of the variance in disability after adjusting for demographics and pain intensity (total R(2)=0.61). Higher levels of functional self-efficacy (beta=-0.43; P<0.001) and lower levels of depression (beta=0.23; P<0.01) were uniquely related to lower levels of disability. Our findings clearly show that there is a strong association between cognitive factors and the levels of pain and disability reported by CLBP patients presenting for physiotherapy. Functional self-efficacy emerged as a particularly strong predictor of both pain intensity and disability. In view of our findings it would seem that targeting specific cognitive factors should be an integral facet of physiotherapy-based treatments for CLBP.

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