Acute low back pain – a cross sectional study: Fear-avoidance beliefs and associated characteristics





Fysioterapeuten;78 (10)


Norsk Fysioterapeutforbund (NFF)



Abstract Background/Aim: Fear-avoidance beliefs (FAB) is exsessive fear of movements that may lead to movement avoidance and contribute to maintenance of LBP. The aim of the study was (i) to identify the percentage of fear-avoidance beliefs (FAB) in patients with acute low back pain (ALBP) and (ii) find any association that may exist between demographic variables, pain and FAB in the sample. Design: The study is a cross sectional survey with a strategic sample. Material: 115 patients between 20 and 70 years of age with acute (less than 12 weeks) low back pain recruited from physiotherapists in outpatient clinics in Norway in the period November 2006 to February 2007. Method: A questionnaire including questions on fear-avoidance beliefs (FABQ) was used. The questionnaire has two parts with five questions about Physical Activities (FABQ-PA) and 11 questions about work related issues. The scores go from 0-6 where 6 is worst. No cutoff values are indicates in the questionnaire, the cut values in the article are quoted from other authors. The patients were also asked for demographic variables and pain. Result: 115 patients participated in the survey: 85 percent answered the FABQ-W part and 20.4 per cent of these had high scores at a cutoff >29. In total 95 per cent answered the FABQ-PA part and 32.1 per cent of these had high scores at a cutoff >14. Mean scores of FABQ-W were 18.3 (10.9) and FABQ-PA 12.3 (5.8). Patients with lowest level of education were significantly associated with high scores on FABQ-W. Conclusion: Increased pain at present (current pain) was significantly associated with high score on the FABQ-PA. Further, being on sick leave and having attained the lowest level of education were independently associated with having high FABQ-W to a significant degree. Keywords: Acute low back pain, fear-avoidance beliefs, cutoff score, formal education.


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