Avoidance behavior in chronic pain research: a cold case revisited

Stéphanie Volders, Yannick Boddez, Steven De Peuter, Ann Meulders, Johan W S Vlaeyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In chronic musculoskeletal pain, avoidance behavior is a prominent behavioral characteristic that can manifest itself in various ways. It is also considered a crucial component in the development and maintenance of chronic pain-related disability, supposedly fueled by pain-related fear and catastrophic beliefs. Despite the frequent occurrence of avoidance behavior and its potential impact on quality of life, relatively little research has been dedicated to the nature of avoidance in chronic pain and its assessment, leaving its underlying mechanisms poorly understood. In the current paper, we stipulate some of the existing parallels between chronic pain research and more basic fear and anxiety research inspired by modern learning theories. After a brief introduction, we discuss avoidance theories that are likely apt to be applied to chronic pain, including avoidance as a response that can affect fear responding, and the role of avoidant decision making and motivational context. Finally, we will outline how these theories may impact clinical treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume64
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Chronic Pain
  • Fear
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Musculoskeletal Pain
  • Quality of Life
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • SOCIAL ANXIETY
  • LEARNING APPROACH
  • LOW-BACK-PAIN
  • EXPOSURE IN-VIVO
  • RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED-TRIAL
  • MOVEMENT-RELATED PAIN
  • CHRONIC MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN
  • SAFETY-SEEKING BEHAVIORS
  • NEGATIVE OCCASION SETTER
  • FEAR-AVOIDANCE

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