A cognitive-behavioral group intervention as prevention for persistent neck and back pain in a non-patient population: a randomized controlled trial

S J Linton, M Ryberg
Pain 2001 February 1, 90 (1): 83-90
Given the demand for interventions that may prevent the development of persistent musculoskeletal pain problems, we investigated the effects of a cognitive-behavioral program in a group of non-patients with neck or back pain symptoms. Two hundred and fifty-three people selected from a population study were invited to participate. These people had experienced four or more episodes of relatively intense spinal pain during the past year but had not been out of work more than 30 days. Participants were randomly assigned to either a cognitive-behavioral group intervention or a treatment as usual comparison group. The experimental group received a standardized six-session program, provided by a trained therapist according to a manual. A significant overall analysis at the 1-year follow-up showed that the cognitive-behavioral group produced better results on 26 of the 33 outcome variables. Group comparisons indicated that the cognitive-behavioral group, relative to the comparison group, had significantly better results with regard to fear-avoidance beliefs, number of pain-free days, as well as the key variable of sick leave. Participation in the cognitive behavioral group reduced the risk for long-term sick leave during the follow-up by threefold. Thus, despite the strong natural recovery rate for back pain, the cognitive-behavioral intervention produced a significant preventive effect with regard to disability.

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