Bone and Joint Institute

Pharmacological, psychological, and patient education interventions for patients with neck pain: Results of an international survey

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Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation





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© 2015 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved. BACKGROUND: Examination of practice patterns compared to existing evidence identifies knowledge to practice gaps. OBJECTIVES: To describe the utilization of pharmacological, patient education, primary psychological interventions and relaxation therapies in patients with neck pain by clinicians. METHODS: An international cross-sectional survey was conducted to determine the use of these interventions amongst 326 clinicians treating patients with neck pain. RESULTS: Nineteen countries participated. Results were analyzed by usage amongst physical therapists (39%) and chiropractors (35%), as they were the predominant respondents. Patient education (95%) and relaxation therapies (59%) were the most utilized interventions. Tests of subgroup differences determined that physical therapists used patient education significantly more than chiropractors. Use of medications and primary psychological interventions were reported by most to be outside of scope of practice. The high rate of patient education is consistent with supporting evidence. However, usage of relaxation therapies is contrary to evidence suggesting no benefit for improved pain or function for chronic neck pain. CONCLUSION: This survey indicates that patient education and relaxation therapies are common treatments provided by chiropractors and physical therapists for patients with neck pain. Future research should address gaps associated with variable practice patterns and knowledge translation to reduce usage of interventions shown to be ineffective.

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