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Transferring Low Back Pain Research Results to Clinical Practice

Medical knowledge about effective treatment for low back pain (LBP) is slow to trickle down from researcher to doctor. Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) written to help the physician treat LBP patients are based on scientific evidence. Getting this information into the hands of doctors is called a Knowledge Transfer.

Frequently these guidelines aren't read or used by doctors even if the information is useful or helpful for patient care. In this study doctors were given direct information about CPGs for low back pain. The goal was to see if direct transfer of information would increase the use of these CPGs.

Only worker's compensation patients with acute LBP (symptoms present less than four weeks) were included. Each patient was put into one of three groups. Group one was the control group. No information about the CPGs was given to the patients or their doctors. Doctors of patients in group two got a copy of the CPGs. They also got a letter naming the patient and advising use of the CPGs for that patient.

Group three was the same as group two except the patients also got a pamphlet with the same CPGs in a little easier-to-understand form. Both groups two and three were sent follow-up letters at regular intervals reminding the doctors in group two and both doctors and patients in group three of the guidelines.

The results of this study showed that even with physician-to-physician communication, CPGs for LBP patients weren't used. There was a trend toward fewer recommendations for bed rest. Patients were also advised to increase aerobic exercise.


Paul B. Bishop, DC, MD, PhD and Peter C. Wing, ChB, MB, MSc, FRCS(C). Knowledge Transfer in Family Physicians Managing Patients with Acute Low Back Pain: A Prospectice Randomized Control Trial. In The Spine Journal. May/June 2006. Vol. 6. No. 3. Pp. 282-288.


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