Background: Lumbar disc herniation (LDH) surgery is usually recommended when conservative treatments fail to manage patients’ symptoms. However, many patients undergoing LDH surgery continue to report pain and disability. Preoperative psychological factors have shown to be predictive for postoperative outcomes. Our aim was to systematically review studies that prospectively examined the prognostic value of factors in the Fear Avoidance Model (FAM), including back pain, leg pain, catastrophizing, anxiety, fear-avoidance, depression, physical activity and disability, to predict postoperative outcomes in patients undergoing LDH surgery.
Methods: We performed a systematic literature review of prospective studies that measured any FAM factors preoperatively to predict postoperative outcomes for patients undergoing LDH surgery. Our search databases included PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycINFO. We assessed the quality of each included study using a certain quality assessment list. Degree of agreement between reviewers on quality assessment was examined. Results related to FAM factors in the included studies were summarized.
Results: Thirteen prospective studies met our inclusion criteria. Most studies were considered high quality. Heterogeneity was present between the included studies in many aspects. The most common FAM factors examinered were baseline pain, disability and depression. In, general, depression, fear-avoidance behaviors, passive pain coping, and anxiety FAM factors appeared to have negative influence on LDH surgical outcome. Baseline back pain and leg pain appeared to have differing prognostic value on LDH surgical outcomes.
Conclusions: FAM factors seem to influence LDH surgical outcomes. Patients with high levels of depression, anxiety and fear-avoidance behaviors are more likely to have poor outcomes following LDH surgery. Conversely, high levels of leg pain, but not back pain seem to be predictor for favorable LDH surgery outcome. More research is needed to determine the exact role of FAM factors on LDH surgical outcome and the value for screening for these factors.
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