Examination of practice patterns in comparison to existing evidence identifies knowledge to practice gaps. This study aims to describe the utilization of pharmacological, patient education, primary psychological interventions and relaxation therapies in patients with neck pain by clinicians. Nineteen countries participated. Results were analyzed by usage amongst physical therapists (39%) and chiropractors (35%), as they made up the majority of respondents. Patient education (95%) and relaxation therapies (59%) were the most utilized interventions. Tests of subgroup differences determined that physical therapists used patient education significantly more than chiropractors. Use of medications and primary psychological interventions were reported by most to be outside of scope of practice. The high rate of patient education is consistent with supporting evidence. However, usage of relaxation therapies is contrary to evidence suggesting no benefit for improved pain or function for chronic neck pain.
This survey suggests that patient education and relaxation therapies are common treatments provided by chiropractors and physical therapists for patients with neck pain. Future research should address gaps related to variable practice patterns and knowledge translation to decrease usage of interventions shown to be ineffective.