Study design: Iterative discussion and consensus by a multidisciplinary task force scientific secretariat reviewing scientific evidence on neck pain and its associated disorders.
Objective: To provide an integrated model for linking the epidemiology of neck pain with its management and consequences, and to help organize and interpret existing knowledge, and to highlight gaps in the current literature.
Summary of background data: The wide variability of scientific and clinical approaches to neck pain described in the literature requires a unified conceptual model for appropriate interpretation of the research evidence.
Methods: The 12-member Scientific Secretariat of the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders critically reviewed and eventually accepted as scientifically admissible a total of 552 scientific papers. The group met face-to-face on 18 occasions and had frequent additional telephone conference meetings over a 6-year period to discuss and interpret this literature and to agree on a conceptual model, which would accommodate findings. Models and definitions published in the scientific literature were discussed and repeatedly modified until the model and case definitions presented here were finally approved by the group.
Results: Our new conceptual model is centered on the person with neck pain or who is at risk for neck pain. Neck pain is viewed as an episodic occurrence over a lifetime with variable recovery between episodes. The model outlines the options available to individuals who are dealing with neck pain, along with factors that determine options, choices, and consequences. The short- and long-term impacts of neck pain are also considered. Finally, the model includes a 5-axis classification of neck pain studies based on how subjects were recruited into each study.
Conclusion: The Scientific Secretariat found the conceptual model helpful in interpreting the available scientific evidence. We believe it can assist people with neck pain, researchers, clinicians, and policy makers in framing their questions and decisions.