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Which route leads from chronic back pain to depression? A path analysis on direct and indirect effects using the cognitive mediators catastrophizing and helplessness/hopelessness in a general population sample

Which route leads from chronic back pain to depression? A path analysis on direct and indirect effects using the cognitive mediators catastrophizing and helplessness/hopelessness in a general population sample

Schmerz 26(6): 685-691

Chronic pain and depression are highly comorbid; however, the longitudinal link is only partially understood. This study examined direct and indirect effects of chronic back pain on depression using path analysis in a general population sample, focussing on cognitive mediator variables. Analyses are based on 413 participants (aged 18-75 years) in a population-based postal survey on back pain who reported chronic back pain at baseline. Follow-up data were collected after 1 year. Depression was measured with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Fear-avoidance-beliefs (FABQ), catastrophizing and helplessness/hopelessness (KRSS) were considered as cognitive mediators. Data were analyzed using path analysis. Chronic back pain had no direct effect on depression at follow-up when controlling for cognitive mediators. A mediating effect emerged for helplessness/hopelessness but not for catastrophizing or fear-avoidance beliefs. These results support the cognitive mediation hypothesis which assumes that psychological variables mediate the association between pain and depression. The importance of helplessness/hopelessness is of relevance for the treatment of patients with chronic back pain.

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Accession: 056936793

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PMID: 23052967

DOI: 10.1007/s00482-012-1233-6

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