Pain-related fear at the start of a new low back pain episode

Eur J Pain. 2005 Dec;9(6):635-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2004.12.007. Epub 2005 Jan 20.


Previous research supports the fear-avoidance model in explaining chronic low back pain (LBP) disability. The aims of the present study were to determine: (1) whether fear-avoidance model variables are associated already during acute stages of LBP and (2) whether (increases in) pain-related fear are associated with other patient characteristics routinely assessed by the General Practitioner (GP). General practice patients consulting because of a new episode of LBP completed questionnaires on pain-related fear, avoidance, pain and disability. A sample of 247 acute LBP patients (median duration of current episode was 5 days) was collected. Significant associations were found between pain intensity, pain-related fear, avoidance behaviour and disability, but correlations were generally modest. A strong association was found between pain and disability. Pain-related fear was slightly higher in patients reporting low job satisfaction and in those taking bedrest. These results suggest that the fear-avoidance model as it was developed and tested in chronic LBP, might not entirely apply to acute LBP patients. Future research should focus on the transition from acute to chronic LBP and the shifts that take place between fear-avoidance model associations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / complications
  • Low Back Pain / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Neurological
  • Pain Measurement / psychology
  • Quality of Life
  • Recurrence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires