BACKGROUND: Utilizing psychological resources when dealing with chronic low back pain might aid the prevention of disability. The observational study at hand examined the longitudinal impact of resilience and coping resources on disability in addition to established risk factors.
METHODS: Four hundred eighty four patients with chronic low back pain (>3 months) were recruited in primary care practices and followed up for one year. Resilience, coping, depression, somatization, pain and demographic variables were measured at baseline. At follow-up (participation rate 89%), data on disability was collected. We first calculated bivariate correlations of all the predictors with each other and with follow-up disability. We then used a multiple regression to evaluate the impact of all the predictors on disability together.
RESULTS: More than half of the followed up sample showed a high degree of disability at baseline (53.7%) and had suffered for more than 10 years from pain (50.4%). Besides gender all of the predictors were bivariately associated with follow-up disability. However in the main analysis (multiple regression), disability at follow up was only predicted by baseline disability, age and somatization. There was no relationship between resilience and disability, nor between coping resources and disability.
CONCLUSIONS: Although it is known that there are cross-sectional relationships between resilience/coping resources and disability we were not able to replicate it in the multiple regression. This can have several reasons: a) the majority of patients in our sample were much more disabled and suffered for a longer time than in other studies. Therefore our results might be limited to this specific population and resilience and coping resources might still have a protective influence in acute or subacute populations. b) We used a rather broad operationalization of resilience. There is emerging evidence that focusing on more concrete sub facets like (pain) self-efficacy and acceptance might be more beneficial.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Clinical Trial Register, DRKS00003123 (June 28th 2011).