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A content analysis of the interventions for low back pain promoted on the websites of Australian pain clinics.

BACKGROUND: The Internet is a widely used source of health information, yet the accuracy of online information can be low. This is the case for low back pain (LBP), where much of the information about LBP treatment is poor.

METHODS: This research conducted a content analysis to explore what pain treatments for LBP are presented to the public on websites of Australian pain clinics listed in the PainAustralia National Pain Services Directory. Websites providing information relevant to the treatment of LBP were included. Details of the treatments for LBP offered by each pain service were extracted.

RESULTS: In total, 173 pain services were included, with these services linking to 100 unique websites. Services were predominantly under private ownership and located in urban areas, with limited services in non-urban locations. Websites provided detail on a median of six (IQR 3-8) treatments, with detail on a higher number of treatments provided by services in the private sector. Physical, psychological and educational treatments were offered by the majority of pain services, whereas surgical and workplace-focused treatments were offered by relatively few services. Most services provided details on multidisciplinary care; however, interdisciplinary, coordinated care characterised by case-conferencing was infrequently mentioned.

CONCLUSIONS: Most websites provided details on treatments that were largely in-line with recommended care for LBP, but some were not, especially in private clinics. However, whether the information provided online is a true reflection of the services offered in clinics remains to be investigated.

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