Study design: Survey report.
Objective: To reassess an existing list of research priorities in primary care low back pain (LBP) and to develop a new research agenda.
Summary of background data: Primary care LBP researchers developed an agenda of research priorities in 1997 at an international conference. In 2009, a survey was conducted to re-evaluate the 1997 research priorities and to develop a new research agenda.
Methods: Two-phase, Internet-based survey of participants in one of the LBP primary care research fora. The first phase collected information on importance, feasibility, and progress for the 1997 priorities; during this phase, the respondents were also asked to list the 5 most important current primary care-relevant LBP research questions. The second phase ranked these current research priorities.
Results: A total of 179 persons responded to the first phase, representing 30% of those surveyed. Rankings of the 1997 priorities were somewhat similar compared with 2009, although research on beliefs and expectations and improving the quality of LBP research became more important, and research on guidelines and psychosocial interventions became less important. Organizing more effective primary care for LBP, implementing best practices, and translating research to practice were ranked higher compared with 1997. Most priorities were also ranked as relatively feasible. The new agenda was similar, and included subgroup-based treatment and studies on causes and mechanisms of LBP as new top priorities.
Conclusion: Changes in research priorities seem to reflect recent advances, new opportunities, and limitations in our ability to improve care.