Biopsychosocial factors predict quality of life in thoracolumbar spine surgery

Qual Life Res. 2017 Nov;26(11):3099-3110. doi: 10.1007/s11136-017-1654-x. Epub 2017 Jul 20.


Purpose: Surgical intervention is a treatment option for various spinal pathology but many patients report no improvement or even an exacerbation of symptoms like pain. This study examined the association of preoperative (pre-op) biopsychosocial risk factors with poor quality of life at 2 and 6 months using hierarchical models controlling demographic and medical variables.

Method: Participants undergoing thoracolumbar spine surgery (N = 214) were provided with questionnaire packages to complete pre-op, at 2 and at 6-month postoperative clinical follow-ups (i.e., demographics, psychosocial measures, SF-12, medical, and clinical measures). The surgeon recorded surgical measures.

Results: Examining the pre-op period only, greater age and medication use (for back symptoms) were associated with poorer physical quality of life [physical component summary score (PCS)], while greater catastrophizing, depression, and lower social support were associated with poorer mental QoL [mental component summary score (MCS)]. Lower preoperative PCS, social support, and greater kinesiophobia were associated with diminished PCS at 2-month. Higher pre-op MCS and higher social support was associated with better MCS at 2-month. Poorer PCS at 6-month was associated with older age and low social support, while diminished MCS was associated with lower pre-op social support, MCS, and longer time in the operation room. Preoperative kinesiophobia partially mediated the relationship between pre-op PCS and 2-month PCS. Age partially mediated the relationship between pre-op PCS and at 6-month. For MCS, social support was the lone partial mediator of baseline MCS and both 2 and 6-month MCS.

Conclusion: These results show that preoperative psychosocial variables are significantly associated with poorer postoperative health-related QoL outcomes following spinal surgeries, supporting a biopsychosocial pre-op care map.

Keywords: Biopsychosocial model; Disability; Quality of life; Spinal surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Back Pain
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Spine / surgery*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome