The experiences and needs of people seeking primary care for low-back pain in Australia

Malene Ahern, Catherine Mary Dean, Blake Farran Dear, Simon Mark Willcock, Julia Margaret Hush

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Introduction: There is a knowledge gap about the current experiences and needs of people with low back pain (LBP) seeking primary care in Australia.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to understand the experiences and needs of Australians who have received treatment for LBP in primary care.

Methods: This was a prospective, cross-sectional internet survey conducted between July 2017 and September 2017. Participants were adults who had experienced an episode of LBP in the past year, had sought primary care in Australia, and were proficient in English. Outcomes were patient-reported experiences about primary care treatment, including reasons for seeking care, health care practitioners consulted, components of care received, and patients' evaluations of the importance and helpfulness of treatment.

Results: A total of 426 Australians completed the survey. The response rate of survey completion was 50%. Participants reported seeking primary care for LBP not only for pain relief, but for difficulties with activities and participation with usual social roles as well as quality of life and mood. Participants consulted multiple health care practitioners and used numerous treatment modalities. Only half reported they received education and a very low proportion were aware of receiving guideline-based advice. The level of satisfaction with care was below moderate for 42% of respondents. Participants reported that they want LBP care to be more person-centred and better tailored to their needs; they also reported wanting more education, particularly about prevention of future episodes and self-management.

Conclusions: The needs of people currently seeking primary care for LBP in Australia do not seem to be adequately met. Improving patients' experiences and outcomes may require better integration of health care across providers and delivery of more person-centred care.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere756
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalPain Reports
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • low-back pain
  • primary care
  • patient's needs
  • patient's experiences

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