What do people believe to be the cause of low back pain? A scoping review

Søren Grøn*, Kasper Bülow, Tobias Daniel Jonsson, Jakob Degn, Alice Kongsted

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

10 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: To explore how causal beliefs regarding non-specific low back pain (LBP) have been quantitatively investigated. Methods: A scoping review based on the guidelines by the JBI (former Joanna Briggs Institute) was conducted. We searched Medline, Embase, Psychinfo, and CINAHL for relevant studies and included peer-reviewed original articles that measured causal beliefs about non-specific LBP among adults and reported results separate from other belief domains. Results: A total of 81 studies were included, of which 62 (77%) had cross sectional designs, 11 (14%) were cohort studies, 3 (4%) randomized controlled trials, 4 (5%) non-randomized controlled trials, and 1 (1%) case control. Only 15 studies explicitly mentioned cause, triggers, or etiology in the study aim. We identified the use of 6 questionnaires from which a measure of causal beliefs could be obtained. The most frequently used questionnaire was the Illness Perception Questionnaire which was used in 8 of the included studies. The studies covered 308 unique causal belief items which we categorized into 15 categories, the most frequently investigated being causal beliefs related to “structural injury or impairment”, which was investigated in 45 (56%) of the studies. The second and third most prevalent categories were related to “lifting and bending“ (26 studies [32%]) and “mental or psychological” (24 studies [30%]). Conclusion: There is a large variation in how causal beliefs are measured and a lack of studies designed to investigate causal beliefs, and of studies determining a longitudinal association between such beliefs and patient outcomes. This scoping review identified an evidence gap and can inspire future research in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100562
JournalBrazilian Journal of Physical Therapy
Issue number6
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 1. Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)


  • Attitudes and beliefs
  • Causal beliefs
  • Illness perceptions
  • Low back pain
  • Questionnaire
  • Scoping review


Dive into the research topics of 'What do people believe to be the cause of low back pain? A scoping review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this