Background: We evaluated the effect of a self-management program for low-income primary care patients with acute low back pain (ALBP) from inner-city neighborhood health centers.
Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial of a self-management program compared with usual care at university-affiliated neighborhood health centers and an emergency department of an inner-city public teaching hospital. We enrolled 211 patients who visited a physician for ALBP (<90 days' duration). The self-management program consisted of 3 group sessions and telephone follow-up that focused on understanding back pain, increasing physical activity, and dealing with fears and frustrations.
Results: At baseline, 4 months, and 12 months, blinded interviewers assessed back pain physical function (Roland Disability Questionnaire), health status (Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales), self-efficacy, and time spent in physical activity. Compared with patients receiving usual care, intervention patients reported significantly better scores on the Roland Disability Questionnaire (P =.009), mental functioning (P =.009), self-efficacy to manage ALBP (P =.03), time spent in physical activity (P =.047), and reduced fears of movement/reinjury (P =.005) after 12 months.
Conclusion: A self-management program can improve and maintain functional status, mental functioning, and self-efficacy to manage future symptoms for 1 year among primary care patients with ALBP living in the urban, inner city.