Self-management of persistent neck pain: a randomized controlled trial of a multi-component group intervention in primary health care

Eur J Pain. 2010 Jul;14(6):630.e1-630.e11. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2009.10.004. Epub 2009 Nov 25.


Studies regarding self-management of persistent neck pain are infrequent.

Objective: to compare treatment effects of (a) a multi-component pain and stress self-management group intervention (PASS) and (b) individually administered physical therapy (IAPT) for patients with persistent musculoskeletal tension-type neck pain.

Methods: Persons seeking physical therapy treatment due to persistent tension-type neck pain at nine primary health care centers in Sweden were randomly assigned to either PASS or IAPT. Before treatment (baseline) and at 10- and 20-weeks the participants completed a self-assessment questionnaire comprising: the Self-Efficacy Scale, the Neck Disability Index, the Coping Strategies Questionnaire, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire and questions regarding neck pain, analgesics and utilization of health care. Intention-to-treat analyses were performed using repeated measures analysis of variance between baseline, 10-week and 20-week follow-up.

Results: One hundred and fifty six participants were included (PASS n=77, IAPT n=79). On average participants receiving PASS attended seven treatment sessions and participants receiving IAPT 11 sessions over the 20-week follow-up period. Repeated measures ANCOVA showed significant time x group interaction effects for ability to control pain (p<0.001), self-efficacy regarding pain-interfering activities (p=0.005), disability due to neck pain (p=0.001) and levels of catastrophic thinking (p<0.001) in favour of PASS.

Conclusion: PASS had a better effect than IAPT in the treatment of persistent musculoskeletal tension-type neck pain regarding coping with pain, in terms of patients' self-reported pain control, self-efficacy, disability and catastrophizing, over the 20-week follow-up.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Humans
  • Neck Pain / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Self Care*
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Treatment Outcome