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J Eval Clin Pract. 2006 Jun;12(3):365-75.

Does physiotherapy management of low back pain change as a result of an evidence-based educational programme?

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University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, UK.



The concept of evidence-based medicine is important in providing efficient health care. The process uses research findings as the basis for clinical decision making. Evidence-based practice helps optimize current health care and enables the practitioners to be suitably accountable for the interventions they provide. Little work has been undertaken to examine how allied health professionals change their clinical practice in light of the latest evidence. The use of opinion leaders to disseminate new evidence around the management of low back pain into practice has been proposed.


The aim of this study was to investigate if physiotherapists' clinical management of patients with low back pain would change following an evidence-based education package, which utilized local opinion leaders and delivered the best evidence.


Thirty musculoskeletal physiotherapists from a Community Trust in North Staffordshire were cluster randomized by location of work, to two groups. The intervention group received an evidence-based programme on the management of low back pain, including advice regarding increasing activity levels and return to normal activity and challenging patients' fears and beliefs about their pain. The control group received a standard in-service training package on the management of common knee pathologies. The physiotherapists' clinical management of patients with low back pain was measured prior to training and 6 months post training. Outcome measures were based on physiotherapists completing 'discharge summary' questionnaires, which included information relating to the use and importance of therapies for treating their low back pain patients.


There were few significant differences in treatment options between the intervention and control groups post training. Whilst there was some indication that physiotherapists were already utilizing aspects of psychosocial management for patients with low back pain, there was little change in what physiotherapists perceived to be important to patient recovery and actual clinical practice following the intervention.


Psychosocial factors have been identified as an important factor in the recovery of patients with low back pain. This project incorporated the latest evidence on the management of low back pain and utilized the theory of opinion leaders to disseminate this evidence into clinical practice. Whilst there were some limitations in the overall size of the study, the results help to give an insight into the challenges faced by the health care system and researchers alike to ensure quality evidence is actually utilized by practitioners for the benefits of patient care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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