Pain and pain-related fear are associated with functional and social disability in an occupational setting: Evidence of mediation by pain-related fear

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Abstract

This study examined the role of work-related, psychosocial and psychological factors in predicting functional and social disability in working employees. In a cross-sectional design, 890 working employees (reporting at least 1 day of back pain during the past year) completed self-report measures of back pain, disability, pain-related fear, negative and positive affectivity, job satisfaction, job stress and physical work load. Regression analyses revealed that pain intensity was a strong predictor of functional (β = .69, p < .001) and social disability (β = .67, p < .001). Fear of (re)injury due to movement (β = .25, p < .001; β = .28, p < .001) had additional predictive value in both models. Further, (singular) mediation tests indicated that fear for (re)injury partially mediated the relation between pain intensity and disability, and between negative affectivity and disability. Finally, path analyses revealed both fear and pain intensity as mediators between negative affectivity and disability. Overall, our findings point at the relevance of the cognitive-behavioral model of avoidance in occupational settings.

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