Psychopathology and the rehabilitation of patients with chronic low back pain disability

Robert Joseph Gatchel, Peter B. Polatin, Tom G. Mayer, Pamela D. Garcy

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Recent research has clearly demonstrated the important role that psychopathology and other psychosocial factors can play in chronic low back pain disability (CLBPD). The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether diagnosed psychopathology is a significant limiting factor in the successful rehabilitation of patients with CLBPD. One hundred fifty-two CLBPD patients (97 men, 55 women) were given a structured psychiatric interview for official DSM-III-R diagnosis of psychopathology upon entering an intensive 3-week functional restoration treatment program. All patients were assessed for the presence of Axis I clinical disorders and Axis II personality disorders. They were subsequently tracked for 1 year after program completion, with treatment outcome being defined as return-to-work status at this 1-year time period. Results demonstrated that, though more than 90% of patients obtained at least one Axis I diagnosis, and more than 50% obtained at least one Axis II diagnosis, neither type nor degree of psychopathology were significantly predictive of a patient's ability to successfully return to work. These prospective study results suggest that if a treatment program is structured to appropriately manage psychopathology, as is the case of an intensive functional restoration program, then psychopathology does not have to interfere with successful treatment outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-670
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1994


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