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Dissertation Title:

The Role of Psychosomatic Phenomena in the Lived Experience of Recurrent Low Back Pain


Danél Lombard

Date, Time & Place:

April 28, 2021 at 11:00 am


The prevalence of recurrent low back pain in American society is extensive, greatly impacting the function of individuals on both personal and community levels. Disability caused by low back pain (LBP) is widespread, and traditional physical therapy approaches often yield temporary benefit only. This study investigated the correlations between recurrent LBP and several psychosomatic phenomena. Themes in personal narrative and synchronistic events around the time of LBP were also explored. This study used mixed methods research with data gathered from 108 participants through five online questionnaires. Correlations were found between LBP and attachment style and interoceptive awareness. Those with greater levels of LBP had more insecure anxious attachment styles, more distractions, less trust, and worried more. Correlations between LBP and self-reported romantic fulfillment and financial satisfaction were also significant. Those with greater levels of LBP experienced less romantic fulfillment, and less financial satisfaction. Based on the regression model, these psychosomatic factors have a 35.1% predictability rate for LBP. Common themes in LBP and synchronistic life events were internal struggle and increased stress, and the common themes in personal narrative about LBP were predominantly related to physical causes for LBP. The implications of this is that a more integrative physical therapy treatment plan for LBP—one that considers these psychosomatic factors and includes narrative medicine—will be more effective, resulting in more lasting outcomes for patients.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology emphasis in Somatic Studies, S, 2013
  • Chair: Dr. Juliet Rohde-Brown
  • Reader: Dr. Dara Ghahremani
  • External Reader: Dr. Edison de Mello
  • Keywords: Low Back Pain, Mindfulness, Attachment Style, Interoception, Narrative Medicine, Physical Therapy, Biopsychosocial, Psychosomatic