The relationship of low back pain, the world’s top disabling condition, with functional disability is often explained by the mediation effect of fear, catastrophizing, and psychological distress. These relationships have not been explored within chronic back pain patients from a low socio-economic, predominantly Muslim country. Thus, it was unclear whether previously established pathways would be consistent in Pakistani pain patients to help guide Pakistani clinicians caring for back pain patients. This cross-sectional study translated English versions of questionnaires within the fear-avoidance model into Urdu, tested the clinimetric properties of the Urdu versions for people with chronic low back pain (CLBP) in Pakistan, and performed mediation analysis to investigate pathways of the fear-avoidance model.
Translation of questionnaires was completed in 4 steps using the forward-backward technique, with subsequent analyses for internal consistency (Cronbach’s α), construct validity (Pearson’s r-value), and test–retest reliability (ICC r-value). Multiple mediation analysis with bootstrapping was performed to analyze pathways within the fear-avoidance model from the Urdu translated questionnaires.
A total of 151 people from Pakistan with CLBP completed the questionnaires, with good results for internal consistency ( r > 0.85), convergent validity ( r > 0.59), and test–retest reliability (ICC r > 0.85). The association of pain with disability was significant ( B=2.36, r 2 = 0.19, p<0.001), and the indirect effect of the mediators explained 81% of pain intensity’s total effect on disability. All mediators, apart from physical activity-related fear-avoidance beliefs, were significant mediators of the effect of pain intensity on disability.
The Urdu versions of the fear-avoidance questionnaires show good clinimetric properties for use in clinical settings and research in Pakistan. These analyses support existing data for the mediation effect of catastrophizing, psychological distress, and self-efficacy on pain-related disability, and extends these findings to suggest that fear about work may be more important in a relatively lower socioeconomic sample of pain patients.