The management of chronic neck pain in general practice. A retrospective study

Jeroen Borghouts*, Henriëtte Janssen, Bart Koes, Jean Muris, Job Metsemakers, Lex Bouter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Objective - To describe the management in patients with chronic non- specific neck pain in general practice. Design - A descriptive, questionnaire-based retrospective study. Setting - General practices in the Netherlands. Patients - 517 patients with chronic non-specific neck pain. Main outcome measures - Nature and frequency of diagnostic procedures, therapeutic interventions and referrals by the general practitioner (GP). Results - Forty-four per cent visited the GP for neck pain in the previous year. Of the patients who did visit the GP in the previous year, 32% did not receive a diagnostic modality, 31% did not receive therapy and 43% were not referred. The most frequently applied diagnostic and therapeutic modalities were physical examination (66%) and pain medication (58%), respectively. The GPs most frequently referred to a physiotherapist (51%). Conclusion - Once neck pain has become chronic, the minority (44%) of patients do seek help from their GP on a yearly base. In spite of the fact that the patients' conditions are non-specific and chronic, GPs still find indications for further diagnostics in two-thirds of patients. The GPs were rather consistent in their management, as the nature of the diagnostic/therapeutic modalities and referrals was similar in more than 50% of the patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-220
Number of pages6
JournalScandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This study was conducted at the Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in collaboration with the Registration Network Family Practices (RNH), Universiteit Maastricht, The Netherlands. The study was supported by a grant from the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), The Hague, The Netherlands. The authors wish to thank Ms DLM Veldman for her assistance on the management of the data and the preparation of the manuscript.


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