Psychosocial differences between high-risk acute vs. chronic low back pain patients

Robert J. Gatchel, Dana Bernstein, Anna W. Stowell, Glenn Pransky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The present study was designed to evaluate the relative degree and type of emotional distress in high-risk acute low back pain (ALBP) subjects (defined as less than 3months since initial injury) vs. high-risk chronic low back pain (CLBP) subjects (defined as greater than 3months since initial injury). It is an extension of earlier findings that demonstrated the significant role that such emotional distress may play in the development of CLBP disability if not appropriately treated in the acute phase. This work stems from a conceptual three-stage model, which characterizes the progression from acute to chronic pain. Several psychosocial measures were administered that included information allowing for the classification of subjects as high-risk based upon an earlier developed screening algorithm. The ancova procedure in SPSS was used to compare groups, controlling for gender, ethnicity, and age. Results revealed that CLBP subjects had higher rates of certain measures of emotional distress and depression relative to ALBP subjects. These findings further support the importance of effectively managing emotional distress factors early, when treating musculoskeletal disorders such as low back pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-97
Number of pages7
JournalPain Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Biopsychosocial perspective
  • High-risk patients
  • Low back pain
  • Psychosocial assessment


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