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Behavioral Intervention Found to Improve Low Back Pain

Intervention encouraging physical activity reduces disability and pain and is cost-effective

FRIDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- A behavioral intervention that encourages physical activity in patients with chronic lower back pain reduces disability and pain and is cost-effective, according to a study published online Feb. 26 in The Lancet.

Sarah E. Lamb, and colleagues from the University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K., randomly assigned 701 adults with subacute or chronic low back pain to up to six sessions of a group cognitive behavioral intervention (targeting behaviors and beliefs about physical activity and avoidance of activity) or no additional intervention.

After one year, the researchers found that patients in the intervention group reported significantly less disability and pain, with 59 percent of intervention patients reporting recovery compared with only 31 percent of patients receiving no additional intervention. The additional benefit in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) was 0.099 for cognitive behavioral intervention. The incremental cost per QALY was £1,786, and the probability of cost-effectiveness was more than 90 percent at about £3,000 per QALY.

"Overall, the results suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy is an excellent option for primary care physicians before they seek specialty consultations for their patients," Laxmaiah Manchikanti, M.D., from the Pain Management Center of Paducah in Kentucky writes in an accompanying comment.

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