General and Specific Self-efficacy Reports of Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: Are They Related to Performances in a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

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The objective of this study was to analyze the relationship of general and specific self-efficacy (SE) beliefs with functional capacity evaluation (FCE) performances in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain (CLBP), while controlling for influence of gender, age, and self-reported pain intensity, self-esteem, disability, psychosocial distress and health status.


Included were 92 patients with CLBP referred to an outpatient university based multidisciplinary pain rehabilitation program in The Netherlands. All patients underwent an FCE. General SE was measured with the ALCOS questionnaire prior to the FCE, specific SE was measured with a self-constructed standardized question during the FCE. Paired samples t-tests were used to tests differences between predicted and actual performances. Pearson and Spearman rank correlation coefficients were used to express the strength of the relationships between SE and performances. Multivariate analyses were used to test the influence of control variables on the relationships between SE (general or specific) and performances.


Performances were consistently higher than patients' self-predictions. Differences between predictions and performances were significant in male lifting low, male carrying, and female carrying. With exception of the association between specific SE and lifting in males (r = 0.55, P < 0.05), all other correlations between general and specific SE and FCE performances were non-significant. Multivariable regression analyses showed that the relative contribution of SE measures over gender was little or none.


The contribution of specific SE to the prediction of FCE performances is moderate in one instance, and insignificant in most instances (both specific and general SE). Because of the consistency of the differences between prediction (specific SE) and performances, and depending on the level of accuracy needed, future research may deliberate the use of predicted material handling capacities at group level and correct for a systematic underprediction.

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