Major, DH, Røe, Y, Småstuen, MC, van der Windt, DA, Sandbakk, TB, Jæger, M and Grotle, M (2022) Fear of movement and emotional distress as prognostic factors for disability in patients with shoulder pain: a prospective cohort study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 23 (1). ISSN 1471-2474

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Background: Shoulder pain is a prevalent and often long-lasting musculoskeletal disorder. The overall prognosis of shoulder pain is highly variable with 40-50% of patients reporting persistent pain 6-12 months after consulting a clinician. The evidence for psychological prognostic factors for patients with shoulder pain is inconsistent. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the association between fear of movement and emotional distress at presentation and self-reported disability over one year of follow-up.

Methods: This is a prospective cohort study of consecutive patients referred to secondary outpatient care due to shoulder pain. Consenting patients underwent a physical examination and completed a comprehensive questionnaire at baseline, three months-, and one-year follow-up. Associations between baseline fear of movement (0-10) or emotional distress (1-4), respectively, and patient reported disability measured using Quick Disability of the Arm and Shoulder (QuickDASH, 0-100) over one year were analyzed with linear mixed-effects models (LMM) for repeated measures (baseline, 3 months and 1 year), adjusting for established prognostic factors.

Results: A total of 138 patients were recruited between March 2015 and January 2018, with response rates of 84.7% (n = 117) and 79.7% (n = 1 00) at three months and one year, respectively. Adjusted associations revealed that for every point increase in baseline fear of movement, the QuickDASH score increased (worsened) by 1.10 points (95% CI 0.2-2.0) over the follow-up year. For every point increase in baseline emotional distress, the QuickDASH score increased by 19.9 points (95% CI 13.9-25.9) from baseline over the follow-up year.

Conclusion: Higher fear of movement and emotional distress scores at baseline were significantly associated with higher disability over one year in patients with shoulder pain referred to secondary care. Our study indicates that these psychological factors affect prognosis and should be considered by clinicians and researchers working with ipatients with shoulder pain.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2022 11:52
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2022 10:00

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