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Br J Gen Pract. 1996 Mar;46(404):153-6.

Patients' views of low back pain and its management in general practice.

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  • 1School of Education, University of Nottingham.



Low back pain is a common and persistent problem. Research studies seeking to improve the quality of management of this condition have tended to ignore the opinions of patients. There is a growing acceptance of the importance of taking patients' views into account in developing management and educational programmes for a variety of conditions.


This study set out to elicit the views of patients concerning low back pain and its management in general practice.


Fifty-two in-depth interviews were conducted with patients selected from a broad range of 12 general practices.


Analysis of the interviews identified seven themes relating to: quality of life, prognosis, secondary prevention, help-seeking behaviour, explanation of underlying pathology, satisfaction with general practitioner management, and complementary therapy. Different patient viewpoints or perspectives were expressed within each of these themes. Patients adapted to the progress of their low back pain and were not seeking a 'magical cure' from either conventional or complementary therapies.


Patients' views on low back pain are heterogeneous. The dissatisfaction expressed with medical explanations for the pain may be related to superficial clinical management and the constraints of general practice. Good management of low back pain needs to take patients' complex views of the condition into account.

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