Individual Patient Education for Managing Acute and/or Subacute Low Back Pain: Little Additional Benefit for Pain and Function Compared to Placebo. A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Leonardo Piano*, Valentina Ritorto, Irene Vigna, Marco Trucco, Hopin Lee, Alessandro Chiarotto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of individual patient education for managing acute and/or subacute low back pain (LBP), compared to no intervention/placebo education, noneducational interventions, or other type of education. DESIGN: Systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized trials. LITERATURE SEARCH: PubMed, CINAHL, PEDro, Embase, Scopus, and CENTRAL (up to September 30, 2020); reference lists of previous systematic reviews. STUDY SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating individual education for patients with acute and/or subacute LBP. DATA SYNTHESIS: Random-effects meta-analysis for clinically homogeneous RCTs. Certainty of evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach. U RESULTS: We included 13 RCTs. There was moderate certainty evidence that individual patient education was more effective than placebo education for pain at medium term (mean difference [MD], −0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI]: -1.52, -0.07) and physical function at short term (standardized mean difference [SMD], −0.25; 95% CI: −0.47, −0.02) and medium term (SMD, −0.26; 95% CI: −0.48, −0.04), but with no clinically relevant effects. There was low-to-moderate certainty evidence that individual patient education was superior to noneducational interventions on short-term quality of life (MD, −12.00; 95% CI: −20.05, −3.95) and medium-term sick leave (odds ratio = 0.32; 95% CI: 0.11, 0.88). We found no clinically relevant between-group effects for any other comparison (low-to-high certainty of evidence) at any follow-up. CONCLUSION: One or 2 hours of individual patient education probably makes little to no difference in pain and functional outcomes compared with placebo for patients with acute and/or subacute LBP. Considering its effects on other outcomes (eg, reassurance) and patients’ desire for information about their condition, it is reasonable to retain patient education as part of a first-line approach when managing acute and subacute LBP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-445
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Volume52
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

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