Evidence supports exercise-based interventions for the management of neck pain, however there is little evidence of its superiority over usual physiotherapy. This study investigated the effectiveness of a group neck and upper limb exercise programme (GET) compared with usual physiotherapy (UP) for patients with non-specific neck pain. A total of 151 adult patients were randomised to either GET or UP. The primary measure was the Northwick Park Neck pain Questionnaire (NPQ) score at six weeks, six months and 12 months. Mixed modelling identified no difference in neck pain and function between patients receiving GET and those receiving UP at any follow-up time point. Both interventions resulted in modest significant and clinically important improvements on the NPQ score with a change score of around 9% between baseline and 12 months. Both GET and UP are appropriate clinical interventions for patients with non-specific neck pain, however preferences for treatment and targeted strategies to address barriers to adherence may need to be considered in order to maximise the effectiveness of these approaches.
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