Treating youth in pain

The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of tailored behavioural medicine treatment within a physical therapy framework.

The study was a randomized controlled study (RCT). Tailored behavioural medicine treatment (EXT) delivered by physical therapists (PTs) was compared with exercise-based treatment (CT). Thirty-two adolescents (mean age 14.3 years) with persistent pain participated. Data on pain-related disability and school attendance (primary outcomes), pain intensity, catastrophizing, fear of movement and self-efficacy were collected.

A significant change within both groups was found and a large effect size for FDI between the conditions was demonstrated. For school attendance post-treatment, no difference was found between conditions. For secondary outcomes, a significant improvement in pain intensity and pain catastrophizing was found for the EXT and self-efficacy for the CT groups but no statistically significant difference between the two conditions was detected. Caution should be given to the small sample size, as it may affect the interpretation and generalizability of the results.

In this study, differences between tailored behavioural medicine treatment delivered by PTs and exercise-based treatment could not be demonstrated, although the effect size was large. Patients who received either treatment demonstrated significant changes over time in pain-related disability.

The low number of participants and suboptimal tailoring of the psychological components may partly explain the failure to demonstrate differences between groups, and future studies are warranted.