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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jan 23;(1):CD004057. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004057.pub3.

Individual patient education for low back pain.

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Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Centre For Quality of Care Research (WOK), (117 KWAZO), PO Box 9101, Nijmegen, Netherlands, 6500 HB.



While many different types of patient education are widely used, the effect of individual patient education for low-back pain (LBP) has not yet been systematically reviewed.


To determine whether individual patient education is effective in the treatment of non-specific low-back pain and which type is most effective.


A computerized literature search of MEDLINE (1966 to July 2006), EMBASE (1988 to July 2006), CINAHL (1982 to July 2006), PsycINFO (1984 to July 2006), and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library 2006, Issue 2) was performed. References cited in the identified articles were screened.


Studies were selected if the design was a randomised controlled trial; if patients experienced LBP; if the type of intervention concerned individual patient education, and if the publication was written in English, German, or Dutch.


The methodological quality was independently assessed by two review authors. Articles that met at least 50% of the quality criteria were considered high quality. Main outcome measures were pain intensity, global measure of improvement, back pain-specific functional status, return-to-work, and generic functional status. Analysis comprised a qualitative analysis. Evidence was classified as strong, moderate, limited, conflicting or no evidence.


Of the 24 studies included in this review, 14 (58%) were of high quality. Individual patient education was compared with no intervention in 12 studies; with non-educational interventions in 11 studies; and with other individual educational interventions in eight studies. Results showed that for patients with subacute LBP, there is strong evidence that an individual 2.5 hour oral educational session is more effective on short-term and long-term return-to-work than no intervention. Educational interventions that were less intensive were not more effective than no intervention. Furthermore, there is strong evidence that individual education for patients with (sub)acute LBP is as effective as non-educational interventions on long-term pain and global improvement and that for chronic patients, individual education is less effective for back pain-specific function when compared to more intensive interventions. Comparison of different types of individual education did not show significant differences.


For patients with acute or subacute LBP, intensive patient education seems to be effective. For patients with chronic LBP, the effectiveness of individual education is still unclear.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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