Low back pain (LBP) is sometimes unresponsive to treatment. Conservative management in form of education and exercise is suggested as a first-line treatment choice. The format of exercise programmes and the scale of improvement both vary. Individual and group models of care are frequently utilised. With these things in mind, the authors conducted this study to determine the effectiveness of a group education/exercise intervention in a cohort of patients with LBP in a teaching hospital in the south east of Ireland. The study also examines which factors are indicative of a positive outcome. Patients aged 18-65 years with LBP > 6 months, who completed the programme between January 2008 and December 2010 were included. Outcome measures were coded, entered into PASW 18 and cleaned. Before and after scores were analysed with paired t tests and χ 2 analysis. Multiple regression modelling was used to determine which baseline variables were independent predictors of positive outcome. In all, 668 patients finished the programme. The mean age of patients was 45.9 ± 11.3 years and the majority of patients (69 %) were female. Three months post programme, significant improvements in all self report and objective physical measures were demonstrated (p < 0.001). Factors associated with a positive outcome included lower levels of baseline disability and distress, less baseline functional impairment, shorter duration of symptoms and not being involved in litigation.
The authors concluded that their group-based education/exercise programme was effective in reducing pain, improving physical function and improving psychosocial status; adding that determining factors which are indicative of positive outcome may assist in maximising patient outcomes.