Postural awareness and its relation to pain: Validation of an innovative instrument measuring awareness of body posture in patients with chronic pain

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Journal Article
BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 2018, 19 (1)
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© 2018 The Author(s). Background: Habitual postural patterns are associated with musculoskeletal pain, and improving a maladaptive posture requires postural awareness in order to lead to clinical improvements. This study aimed to develop and evaluate the psychometric properties of an innovative postural awareness scale. Methods: A 12-item Postural Awareness Scale (PAS) was developed and administered to 512 chronic pain patients (50.3 ± 11.4 years, 91.6% female, 37.1% spinal/shoulder pain) to assess its factor structure and reliability. To determine convergent validity, measures of body awareness, body responsiveness, body image, and mindfulness were correlated with the PAS, as were clinical measures of pain intensity, disability, and mental health. Sensitivity to change was assessed in 202 outpatients participating in a 10-week multimodal mind-body program. Results: Factor analysis revealed two factors (Ease/Familiarity with Postural Awareness and Need for Attention Regulation with Postural Awareness) that explained 50.8% of the variance. Cronbach's alpha for the complete scale was 0.80; Spearman-Brown coefficient of split-half reliability was 0.67; and intra-class correlation was ICC2,1 = 0.75 (95% confidence interval = 0.71, 0.78). Significant positive correlations were found for body awareness (r = 0.23), body responsiveness (r = 0.41), body image (r = 0.22-0.32), and mindfulness (r = 0.38); negative correlations for pain intensity (r = - 0.14), disability (r = - 0.12), depression (r = - 0.23), and stress (r = - 0.29). Postural awareness scores increased with a mind-body program (p < 0.001); changes in the PAS were negatively correlated with changes in pain intensity (r = - 0.35) in patients with spinal/shoulder pain. Conclusion: Self-reported postural awareness is associated with clinical symptoms in chronic pain patients; improvements in postural awareness are longitudinally associated with reduced pain in patients with spinal/shoulder pain.
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