Changes in Pain Self-Efficacy, Coping Skills, and Fear-Avoidance Beliefs in a Randomized Controlled Trial of Yoga, Physical Therapy, and Education for Chronic Low Back Pain

Pain Med. 2022 Apr 8;23(4):834-843. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnab318.


Objective: We evaluated exercise interventions for cognitive appraisal of chronic low back pain (cLBP) in an underserved population.

Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of the Back to Health Trial, showing yoga to be noninferior to physical therapy (PT) for pain and function outcomes among adults with cLBP (n = 320) recruited from primary care clinics with predominantly low-income patients. Participants were randomized to 12 weeks of yoga, PT, or education. Cognitive appraisal was assessed with the Pain Self-Efficacy Questionnaire (PSEQ), Coping Strategies Questionnaire (CSQ), and Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire (FABQ). Using multiple imputation and linear regression, we estimated within- and between-group changes in cognitive appraisal at 12 and 52 weeks, with baseline and the education group as references.

Results: Participants (mean age = 46 years) were majority female (64%) and majority Black (57%), and 54% had an annual household income <$30,000. All three groups showed improvements in PSEQ (range 0-60) at 12 weeks (yoga, mean difference [MD] = 7.0, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.9, 9.0; PT, MD = 6.9, 95% CI: 4.7 to 9.1; and education, MD = 3.4, 95% CI: 0.54 to 6.3), with yoga and PT improvements being clinically meaningful. At 12 weeks, improvements in catastrophizing (CSQ, range 0-36) were largest in the yoga and PT groups (MD = -3.0, 95% CI: -4.4 to -1.6; MD = -2.7, 95% CI: -4.2 to -1.2, respectively). Changes in FABQ were small. No statistically significant between-group differences were observed on PSEQ, CSQ, or FABQ at either time point. Many of the changes observed at 12 weeks were sustained at 52 weeks.

Conclusion: All three interventions were associated with improvements in self-efficacy and catastrophizing among low-income, racially diverse adults with cLBP.

Trial registration: identifier NCT01343927.

Keywords: Back Pain; Chronic Pain; Coping Skills; Physical Therapy; Self-Efficacy; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Chronic Pain* / psychology
  • Chronic Pain* / therapy
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain* / psychology
  • Low Back Pain* / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Self Efficacy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yoga*

Associated data