Investigating dynamic pain sensitivity in the context of the fear-avoidance model

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Abstract

Background:

Although nearly everyone at some point in their lives experiences back pain; the amount of interference with routine activity varies significantly. The fear-avoidance (FA) model of chronic pain explains how psychological variables, such as fear, act as mediating factors influencing the relationship between clinical pain intensity and the amount of interference with daily activities. What remains less clear is how other mediating factors fit within this model. The primary objective of this report was to examine the extent to which a dynamic measure of pain sensitivity provides additional information within the context of the FA model.

Method:

To address our primary objective, classic mediation and moderated mediation analyses were conducted on baseline clinical, psychological and quantitative sensory measures obtained on 67 subjects with back pain (mean age, 31.4 ± 12.1 years; 70% female).

Results:

There was a moderately strong relationship (r = 0.52; p < 0.01) between clinical pain intensity and interference, explaining about 27% of the variance in the outcome. Mediation analyses confirmed fear partially mediated the total effect of clinical pain intensity on interference (Δβ = 0.27; p < 0.01), and accounted for an additional 16% of the variance. In our FA model, pain sensitivity did not demonstrate additional indirect effects; however, it did moderate the strength of indirect effects of fear.

Conclusion:

This preliminary modelling suggests complex interactions exist between pain-related fear and pain sensitivity measures that further explain individual differences in behaviour.

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