The treatment of lower back pain is by no means always based on research evidence and, for example, too many imaging examinations are still being carried out.
In a new study from the University of Oulu, researchers found a new patient education booklet in the treatment of lower back pain can strongly benefit patients.
A total of over 400 patients with lower back pain took part in the study in eight health care units. For the study, the units were randomized into intervention and control groups.
The team found the use of the patient education booklet strongly reduced both imaging examinations and sick leave days.
During the one-year follow-up period, 18% of patients in the intervention group and 30% of patients in the control group underwent lower back imaging examinations.
The average length of sick leave was around one week in the intervention group and as much as three weeks in the control group. There were no significant differences in physical function between the groups.
The findings suggest the new patient education booklet is an affordable and effective way to reduce unnecessary imaging and sick leave days due to back pain.
The results were in line with the suitability study of the booklet, which found that it facilitated the implementation of evidence-based treatment by professionals.
The team says patients also felt that the booklet helped them to understand their back problems, and they felt encouraged to exercise.
The implementation of the study in a normal health care environment makes it easier to put into practice.
The extensive introduction of a patient education booklet in primary health care may help to reduce imaging examinations and sick leave days related to lower back pain in Finland and internationally.
Originally developed by Australian researchers at Macquarie University, the purpose of the patient education booklet is to promote evidence-based treatment of lower back pain.
The booklet contains the correct information, reminds professionals of the recommended treatment, assists in clinical decision making and supports the interaction between the professional and the patient.
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The study is published in the journal BMC Family Practice. One author of the study is Anna Sofia Simula.
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