Exercise Motivation and Nonspecific Back Pain: A Comparison of Patients and Nonpatients

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Objective: Motivation is a key variable to consider during exercise or exercise therapy of individuals with back pain. Based on organismic integration theory, this study aims to improve the understanding of exercise motivation in patients and nonpatients by evaluating the relationships between typical motivational profiles and personal characteristics, therapy parameters and pain related variables. Method: One hundred nine women and 145 men with back pain (mean age 33.3 years; 31.9% currently under the care of a physician) involved in some kind of exercise for current nonspecific back pain voluntarily participated in this study. An adapted version of the Behavioral Regulation in Sport Questionnaire was used to measure exercise motivation. Furthermore, data on pain, disability status, level of sport activity, body concept, and the type of treatment or exercise were gathered. Results: Autonomous forms of regulation were most prevalent among subjects. Of 4 motivational profiles found, 2 showed a positive pattern (29.1% highly motivated individuals, 21.7% autonomously convinced individuals), and 2 showed a more negative pattern (19.7% controlled convinced individuals, 29.5% less motivated individuals). Relationships between profiles and age, body concept, involvement in sport competition, and type of exercise were found. Conclusions: The different motivational profiles respectively reveal specific practical relevance. In particular, the controlled convinced pattern is supposed to be more maladaptive than all other profiles. The insights provided by this study supports the development of motivation-oriented treatments based on the assessment of individuals’ motivational profiles.

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