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The Influence of Psychological Factors on Low Back Pain-Related Disability in Community Dwelling Older Persons


  • Alejandra Cano's contract is co-financed by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (National Program for Promotion of Human Resources of the PN I + D + I 2004–2007), Madrid, Spain.

  • Original Research Article

Francisco M. Kovacs, MD, Departamento Científico, Fundación Kovacs, Paseo de Mallorca 36, E-07012 Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Tel: 34-971-720809; Fax: 34-971-720774; E-mail:


Objectives.  To assess the influence of fear avoidance beliefs (FAB) and catastrophizing on low back pain (LBP)-related disability in Spanish community dwelling retirees.

Design.  Correlation between variables measured with previously validated instruments.

Setting.  Majorca, Spain.

Patients.  1,044 community dwelling subjects attending conferences for retired persons.

Outcome Measures.  Visual analog scales for LBP and pain referred to the leg (LP), Roland Morris Questionnaire (RMQ) for disability, FAB-Phys questionnaire (FABQ) for FAB, and the Coping Strategies Questionnaire (CSQ) for catastrophizing.

Results.  In subjects without clinically relevant LBP, FAB correlated moderately with catastrophizing (r = 0.535) and disability (r = 0.390), and weakly with LP (r = 0.119) and LBP (r = 0.197). In subjects with LBP, FAB correlated moderately with catastrophizing (r = 0.418) and disability (r = 0.408), and weakly with LP (0.152), but not with LBP. Correlations among CSQ, FABQ, and RMQ were similar in subjects with and without current LBP. In regression models, the coefficient for effect of FAB on disability was 0.14 for participants with no LBP, and 0.28 for those with pain. Corresponding values for catastrophizing were 0.17 and 0.19.

Conclusion.  In Spanish community dwelling retirees, the influence of FAB and catastrophizing on LBP-related disability is clinically small.