Barriers to home-based exercise program adherence with chronic low back pain: Patient expectations regarding new technologies

Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2016 Apr;59(2):107-13. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2016 Apr 1.


Objective: To assess views of patients with chronic low back pain (cLBP) concerning barriers to home-based exercise program adherence and to record expectations regarding new technologies.

Design: Qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews.

Participants: A heterogeneous sample of 29 patients who performed a home-based exercise program for cLBP learned during supervised physiotherapy sessions in a tertiary care hospital.

Interventions: Patients were interviewed at home by the same trained interviewer. Interviews combined a funnel-shaped structure and an itinerary method.

Results: Barriers to adherence related to the exercise program (number, effectiveness, complexity and burden of exercises), the healthcare journey (breakdown between supervised sessions and home exercise, lack of follow-up and difficulties in contacting care providers), patient representations (illness and exercise perception, despondency, depression and lack of motivation), and the environment (attitudes of others, difficulties in planning exercise practice). Adherence could be enhanced by increasing the attractiveness of exercise programs, improving patient performance (following a model or providing feedback), and the feeling of being supported by care providers and other patients. Regarding new technologies, relatively younger patients favored visual and dynamic support that provided an enjoyable and challenging environment and feedback on their performance. Relatively older patients favored the possibility of being guided when doing exercises. Whatever the tool proposed, patients expected its use to be learned during a supervised session and performance regularly checked by care providers; they expected adherence to be discussed with care providers.

Conclusions: For patients with cLBP, adherence to home-based exercise programs could be facilitated by increasing the attractiveness of the programs, improving patient performance and favoring a feeling of being supported. New technologies meet these challenges and seem attractive to patients but are not a substitute for the human relationship between patients and care providers.

Keywords: Adherence; Home-based exercise; Low back pain; Rehabilitation; Virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Boredom
  • Chronic Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Care*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Networking
  • Telerehabilitation
  • Video Recording
  • Young Adult