Active treatment programs for patients with chronic low back pain: a prospective, randomized, observer-blinded study

Eur Spine J. 1995;4(3):148-52. doi: 10.1007/BF00298239.


Several new studies have indicated that an active approach to patients with chronic disabling low back pain (LBP) seems effective. Some of these studies emphasize the importance of dealing with the patient's total situation in comprehensive multidisciplinary programs--the bio-psycho-social model. However, these programs are expensive. The aim of this study was to evaluate the rehabilitation outcome from three different active programs in terms of: (1) return-to-work rate, (2) days of sick leave, (3) health-care contacts, (4) pain and disability scores, and (5) staying physically active. The subjects included 132 patients randomized to the study, of whom 123 started one of the treatment programs. They had all had at least 6 months of chronic LBP. The patients were randomized into one of three programs: group 1--a full-time, intensive 3-week multidisciplinary program, including active physical and ergonomic training and psychological pain management, followed by 1 day weekly for the subsequent 3 weeks; group 2--active physical training, twice a week for 6 weeks, for a total of 24h; group 3--psychological pain management combined with active physical training, twice a week for 6 weeks, also for a total of 24h. The results presented here are based on data collected 4 months following treatment, which shows an 86% response rate. The initial examination and the follow-up evaluation were performed by a blinded observer. The results show that 4 months after treatment, the intensive multidisciplinary program is superior to the less intensive programs in terms of return-to-work rate, health-care contacts, pain and disability scores, and staying physically active.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / psychology
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Occupational Diseases / therapy
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychotherapy
  • Treatment Outcome