The Fear Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire (FABQ): does it really measure fear beliefs?

Review written by Dr Sandy Hilton info

Key Points

  1. The FABQ is likely not a good measure of fear avoidance.
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The Fear Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire (FABQ) was developed by Gordon Waddell et al and validated in 1993 (1). Their goal was to identify those who are avoiding movement due to fear of pain as part of a comprehensive biopsychosocial model of treatment. The questionnaire is also commonly used to predict who will be at risk of continued disability. The FABQ has been used in research and clinical practice as a measure of how fear and avoidance impact pain behavior.

The authors note that despite the wide use of the FABQ, the measurement properties of the questionnaire do not test consistently (5). This study looked at the individual questions of the FABQ using a Rasch analysis to determine if the individual questions predict return to work as well as the complete scale. Does this test measure what we thought it measured?

The Fear Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire is commonly used to predict which patients will be at risk of continued disability.
If we measure the wrong thing well, we still don’t know anything - Bronnie Thompson (PhD


This was a cohort study with a 12-month follow-up. Participants were in projects looking at the effects of rehabilitation on return to work. Participants were on “sick list” and out of work for up to 12 months.

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