Adding brief pain science or ergonomics messages to guideline advice did not increase feelings of reassurance in people with acute low back pain: a randomized experiment

Giovanni E. Ferreira, Joshua R. Zadro, Adrian C. Traeger, Caitlin P. Jones, Courtney A. West, Mary O'Keeffe, Hazel Jenkins, James McAuley, Christopher G. Maher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the effects of adding pain science or ergonomics messages to guideline advice on feelings of reassurance and management intentions among people with acute low back pain (LBP). 

Design: Three-arm parallel-group randomized experiment. 

Methods: We recruited people with acute LBP (pain for ≤6 weeks) to participate in an online experiment. Participants were randomized at a 1:1:1 ratio to one of three groups: guideline advice alone or guideline advice with the addition of brief pain science or ergonomics messages. The intervention was delivered via prerecorded videos in all 3 groups. Coprimary outcomes were reassurance that (1) no serious condition is causing LBP and (2) continuing with daily activities is safe. Secondary outcomes were perceived risk of developing chronic pain, management intentions (bed rest, see a health professional, see a specialist, and imaging), credibility, and relevance of the advice in addressing the participant's concerns. 

Results: Two thousand two hundred ninety-seven responses (99.3% of 2,313 randomized) were analyzed. Adding brief pain science or ergonomics messages to guideline advice did not change reassurance that LBP was not caused by serious disease. The addition of ergonomics advice provided worse reassurance that it is safe to continue with daily activities compared to guideline advice (mean difference [MD], -0.33; 95% CI: 0.13, 0.53). There was no difference between groups on management intentions. 

Conclusion: Adding pain science or ergonomics messages to guideline advice did not increase reassurance or change management intentions in people with acute LBP. Ergonomics messages may lead to reduced feelings of reassurance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-779
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy
Volume53
Issue number12
Early online date17 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • advice
  • education
  • ergonomics
  • low back pain
  • pain neuroscience

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