Objectives: We aimed to investigate which prevention strategies for low back pain (LBP) are most effective.
Design: We completed a Bayesian network meta-analysis to summarise the comparative effectiveness of LBP prevention strategies. The primary outcomes were an episode of LBP and LBP-associated work absenteeism represented as ORs with associated 95% credibility intervals (CrIs). We ranked all prevention strategies with surface under the cumulative ranking curve (SUCRA) analysis.
Data sources: PubMed, EMBASE and CENTRAL databases were searched along with manual searches of retrieved articles. We only included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that reported an episode of LBP and/or LBP-associated work absenteeism evaluating LBP prevention strategies were included.
Eligibility criteria for selecting studies: Data were independently extracted by two investigators, and RCT quality was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool.
Results and summary: Forty RCTs were included. Exercise combined with education (OR: 0.59, CrI: 0.41 to 0.82) and exercise alone (OR: 0.59, CrI: 0.36 to 0.92) both prevented LBP episodes; exercise combined with education and education alone both had large areas under the curve (SUCRA: 81.3 and 79.4, respectively). Additionally, exercise (OR: 0.04, CrI: 0.00 to 0.34) prevented LBP-associated work absenteeism, with exercise and the combination of exercise and education ranking highest (SUCRA: 99.0 and 60.2, respectively).
Conclusions: Exercise alone and exercise combined with education can prevent episodes of LBP and LBP-related absenteeism.
Trial registration number: PROSPERO 42017056884.
Keywords: back; meta-analysis.
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