Background: Low back pain (LBP) is a prevalent and costly condition in the United States. Evidence suggests there is no one treatment which is best for all patients, but instead several viable treatment options. Additionally, multidisciplinary management of LBP may be more effective than monodisciplinary care. An integrative model that includes both complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and conventional therapies, while also incorporating patient choice, has yet to be tested for chronic LBP.The primary aim of this study is to determine the relative clinical effectiveness of 1) monodisciplinary chiropractic care and 2) multidisciplinary integrative care in 200 adults with non-acute LBP, in both the short-term (after 12 weeks) and long-term (after 52 weeks). The primary outcome measure is patient-rated back pain. Secondary aims compare the treatment approaches in terms of frequency of symptoms, low back disability, fear avoidance, self-efficacy, general health status, improvement, satisfaction, work loss, medication use, lumbar dynamic motion, and torso muscle endurance. Patients' and providers' perceptions of treatment will be described using qualitative methods, and cost-effectiveness and cost utility will be assessed.
Methods and design: This paper describes the design of a randomized clinical trial (RCT), with cost-effectiveness and qualitative studies conducted alongside the RCT. Two hundred participants ages 18 and older are being recruited and randomized to one of two 12-week treatment interventions. Patient-rated outcome measures are collected via self-report questionnaires at baseline, and at 4, 12, 26, and 52 weeks post-randomization. Objective outcome measures are assessed at baseline and 12 weeks by examiners blinded to treatment assignment. Health care cost data is collected by self-report questionnaires and treatment records during the intervention phase and by monthly phone interviews thereafter. Qualitative interviews, using a semi-structured format, are conducted with patients at the end of the 12-week treatment period and also with providers at the end of the trial.
Discussion: This mixed-methods randomized clinical trial assesses clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and patients' and providers' perceptions of care, in treating non-acute LBP through evidence-based individualized care delivered by monodisciplinary or multidisciplinary care teams.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00567333.