Psychosocial factors in disabling low back pain: Causes or consequences?

Maureen J. Simmonds, Shrawan Kumar, Eugene Lechelt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Low back pain (LBP) is a common problem that is costly in both financial and human terms. The impact of LBP on an individual varies greatly. For some, LBP is a minor inconvenience; but for others LBP is associated with significant disability and with psychosocial dysfunction for the individual and for the family. Whether psychosocial factors are causes or consequences has been the subject of debate. This paper is a review of psychosocial factors associated with disabling LBP. It addresses the question of whether these factors are causes or consequences of the disability due to LBP. Based on this review it was concluded that there is little evidence in support of the concept of a pain-prone personality. Once LBP has occurred, the impact of the LBP on the individual and the family is influenced by the health-beliefs and coping strategies of the individual and the family. Distress appears to be secondary to physical restriction rather than pain, but the distress may aggravate the pain and thus the disability. The paper concludes with a discussion of the impact of health practitioners on pain-related disability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-168
Number of pages8
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


  • Disability
  • Low back pain
  • Psychosocial factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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