The primary purpose of the present study was to examine the temporal stability of communicative and protective pain behaviors in patients with chronic back pain. The study also examined whether the stability of pain behaviors could be accounted for by patients' levels of pain severity, catastrophizing, or fear of movement. Patients (n=70) were filmed on two separate occasions (i.e., baseline, follow-up) while performing a standardized lifting task designed to elicit pain behaviors. Consistent with previous studies, the results provided evidence for the stability of pain behaviors in patients with chronic pain. The analyses indicated that communicative and protective pain behavior scores did not change significantly from baseline to follow-up. In addition, significant test-retest correlations were found between baseline and follow-up pain behavior scores. The results of hierarchical multiple regression analyses further showed that pain behaviors remained stable over time even when accounting for patients' levels of pain severity. Regression analyses also showed that pain behaviors remained stable when accounting for patients' levels of catastrophizing and fear of movement. Discussion addresses the potential contribution of central neural mechanisms and social environmental reinforcement contingencies to the stability of pain behaviors. The discussion also addresses how treatment interventions specifically aimed at targeting pain behaviors might help to augment the overall impact of pain and disability management programs.
Copyright © 2010 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.