Objectives: To compare the efficacy of an information booklet or oral information about back pain in reducing disability and fear-avoidance beliefs among patients with subacute and chronic low back pain referred to a rehabilitation department.
Methods: An alternate-month design was used for 142 patients with subacute or chronic low back pain who were hospitalized for treatment. Seventy-two patients received written standardized information about back pain (the "back book") and usual physical therapy (intervention group), and 70 received usual physical therapy only along with nonstandardized oral information (control group). The main outcome measure was disability (measured on the Quebec back-pain disability scale), and secondary outcome measures were pain intensity (measured on a visual analog scale), fear-avoidance beliefs (measured on the Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire [FABQ] Physical component), and knowledge of the relation of back pain to physical activity assessed at baseline, just before discharge from the hospital and 3 months after discharge. Satisfaction related to the information received was assessed on the day of discharge.
Results: Receiving the "back book" had a significant impact on disability at 3 months, from 48.40+/-14.55 to 34.57+/-18.42 in the intervention group and from 52.17+/-16.88 to 42.40+/-14.95 in the control group (p=0.03). Receipt of the book also had a significant impact on patients' knowledge and satisfaction about information but a nonsignificant effect on fear-avoidance beliefs.
Conclusions: Providing an information booklet about back pain to patients with subacute and chronic low back pain referred to a rehabilitation unit contributes to reduced disability in these patients.