Individual patient education for low back pain.

A Engers, P Jellema, M Wensing, DAWM van der Windt, R Grol, MW van Tulder

This is a systematic review from the Cochrane Library looking at the effect of individual information on non specific lower back pain. The review aims to determine  whether individual patient education is effective in the treatment of non-specific low-back pain and which type of education is most effective.

24 studies were included in this review, 14 (58%)  were considered high quality. Individual patient education was compared with no intervention in 12 studies; with non-educational interventions in 11 studies; and with other individual educational interventions in eight studies.

Results showed strong evidence that a 2.5 hour individual educational session is more effective for  return-to-work than no intervention.Educational interventions that were less intensive were not more effective than no intervention.

The authors also found strong evidence that individual education for patients with (sub)acute LBP is as effective as non-educational interventions on long-term pain and global improvement .

In patients with chronic problems, individual education is less effective for back pain-specific function when compared to more intensive interventions. Comparison of different types of individual education did not show significant differences.

In conclusion educational sessions may be as effective as other interventions in patients with acute and sub acute lower back pain although the evidence is inconclusive when the problem is chronic.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008 Issue 2

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