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Eur J Pain. 1997;1(4):279-92.

Multidisciplinary rehabilitation for chronic back pain in an outpatient setting: a controlled randomized trial.

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  • 1Cancer Prevention Research Center, University of Rhode Island, USA.


Based on existing models for pain chronicity and effective treatment strategies for patients with chronic low back pain, a multidisciplinary rehabilitation programme for an outpatient group setting was developed. The main treatment components address the patient's physical functional capacity (functional restoring), cognitive and affective processes (pain management strategies), and behavioural and ergonomical aspects (back school elements). Short-term (immediately after intervention) and long-term effects (at 6-months follow-up) of the intervention were assessed in a randomized controlled study. Dependent variables were pain measures, functional capacity, disability, muscular strength and endurance, pain and posture-related self-efficacy, attitudes, depression, well-being, behavioural habits and posture assessed by a standardized behavioural observation method. Immediately after the intervention, patients in the treatment group (n=36) showed significant improvement over patients in the control group (n=29) in all variables except depression and muscular strength and endurance. At 6-months follow-up, compared to pretreatment scores, patients continued to show beneficial effects in pain intensity and frequency, posture, posture-related self-efficacy and well-being. In contrast to post-treatment results, there were also significant improvements in strength and endurance. Overall results testify to the effectiveness of the intervention programme. Future studies (with larger sample sizes) should aim at a further improvement of functional capacity and disability perception, an analysis of differential treatment effects, and strategies for an improved long-term maintenance of the changes induced by the programme.

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