Income as a Predictor of Self-Efficacy for Managing Pain and for Coping With Symptoms Among Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain

Published in: Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Volume 44, Issue 6, pages 433–444 (July–August 2021). doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2021.05.004

Posted on RAND.org on February 25, 2022

by Margaret D. Whitley, Patricia M. Herman, Gursel Rafig oglu Aliyev, Cathy D. Sherbourne, Gery W. Ryan, Ian D. Coulter

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Objectives

The purpose of this study was to evaluate pain self-efficacy (PSE) and coping self-efficacy (CSE) for people with chronic low back pain (CLBP), and to assess whether lower income may be associated with less PSE and CSE in the United States.

Methods

We conducted a cross-sectional study using survey data collected between June 2016 and February 2017 from n = 1364 patients with CLBP from chiropractic clinics in the United States to measure the relationship between income and both types of self-efficacy. We created 4 multivariate models predicting PSE and CSE scores. We used both a parsimonious set of covariates (age, sex) and a full set (age, sex, education, neck pain comorbidity, catastrophizing, and insurance). We also calculated effect sizes (Cohen's d) for unadjusted differences in PSE and CSE score by income.

Results

Lower income was associated with lower PSE and CSE scores across all 4 models. In the full models, the highest-income group had an average of 1 point (1–10 scale) higher PSE score and CSE score compared to the lowest income group. Effect sizes for the unadjusted differences in PSE and CSE scores between the highest and lowest income groups were 0.94 and 0.84, respectively.

Conclusions

Our findings indicate that people with lower income perceive themselves as less able to manage their pain, and that this relationship exists even after taking into account factors like health insurance and educational attainment. There is a need to further investigate how practitioners and policymakers can best support low-income patients with chronic pain.

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