Study design: A controlled clinical trial.
Objectives: To examine the long-term effect of an informative approach to low back pain.
Summary of background data: In management and prevention of low back pain, back school based on an ergonomic approach have played in important role. The effect of such informative interventions is not clear.
Methods: A 5-year follow-up study was done on patients included in a previous study. The outcome was measured by return to work or still on sick leave. The patients were allocated to an intervention group (n = 245) and a control group (n = 244). Only the intervention group was called in for examination and intervention and answered a battery of tests for psychological and health factors. The intervention apart from the clinical examination consisted of education in an "mini back school." The program was based on a new medical model for low back pain.
Results: Forty-seven (19%) of the patients in the intervention group, compared with 84 patients (34%) in the control group, were still on sick leave after 5 years (P < 0.001). There were fewer recurrences of sick leave (P < 0.03) in the intervention group than in the control group. Based on Internal Health Locus of Control, number of children, and income, 75% were correctly classified as nonreturners in the intervention group.
Conclusions: This study indicates that subchronic low back pain may be managed successfully with an approach that includes clinical examination combined with information for patients about the nature of the problem, provided in a manner designed to reduce fear and give them reason to resume light activity.