General practitioners' fear-avoidance beliefs influence their management of patients with low back pain

Pain. 2006 Oct;124(3):330-337. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2006.05.003. Epub 2006 Jun 5.


The objectives of this cross-sectional study conducted in primary care practice in France were to describe general practitioners' (GPs) fear-avoidance beliefs about low back pain (LBP), investigate the impact of these beliefs on their following guidelines for bed rest, physical activities, and sick leave, and uncover factors associated with GPs' fear-avoidance beliefs. A total of 864 GPs completed a 5-part self-administered questionnaire. Parts 1, 2, and 3 concerned demographic, professional data, and personal history of back pain, respectively. Part 4 dealt with GPs' education about LBP and practice for LBP. Part 5 assessed GPs' fear-avoidance beliefs on the Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire (FABQ). GPs' mean age was 48.2+/-7.0 years, 80% were male, 88% had been practicing for more than 10 years, and 52% reported a previous personal episode of acute LBP. Forty-six percent had participated in an educational session on LBP during the last 3 years. Mean scores for the FABQ Phys and Work were 9.6+/-4.8 and 17.5+/-6.7, respectively. Sixteen percent of participants had high rating on the FABQ Phys (FABQ Phys score>14). FABQ Phys score was associated with recommendation of bed rest or rest during sick leave (p<0.0001) for acute LBP and less advice to maintain maximum bearable physical activities (p<0.001) for chronic LBP. FABQ Work score was associated with prescribing sick leave during painful periods (p<0.005) for acute LBP and less advice to maintain maximum bearable physical activities (p<0.001) for chronic LBP. GPs' fear-avoidance beliefs about LBP negatively influence their following guidelines concerning physical and occupational activities for patients with LBP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • France
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / psychology*
  • Low Back Pain / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*