Pain catastrophizing and kinesiophobia: predictors of chronic low back pain

Am J Epidemiol. 2002 Dec 1;156(11):1028-34. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwf136.


By using a population-based cohort of the general Dutch population, the authors studied whether an excessively negative orientation toward pain (pain catastrophizing) and fear of movement/(re)injury (kinesiophobia) are important in the etiology of chronic low back pain and associated disability, as clinical studies have suggested. A total of 1,845 of the 2,338 inhabitants (without severe disease) aged 25-64 years who participated in a 1998 population-based questionnaire survey on musculoskeletal pain were sent a second questionnaire after 6 months; 1,571 (85 percent) participated. For subjects with low back pain at baseline, a high level of pain catastrophizing predicted low back pain at follow-up (odds ratio (OR) = 1.7, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.0, 2.8) and chronic low back pain (OR = 1.7, 95% CI: 1.0, 2.3), in particular severe low back pain (OR = 3.0, 95% CI: 1.7, 5.2) and low back pain with disability (OR = 3.0, 95% CI: 1.7, 5.4). A high level of kinesiophobia showed similar associations. The significant associations remained after adjustment for pain duration, pain severity, or disability at baseline. For those without low back pain at baseline, a high level of pain catastrophizing or kinesiophobia predicted low back pain with disability during follow-up. These cognitive and emotional factors should be considered when prevention programs are developed for chronic low back pain and related disability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Pain / classification
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires