This site is intended for health professionals only

Group therapy "good for back pain"

Lower back pain sufferers can get relatively cheap effective treatment through group therapy, a study has revealed.

Participants continued to improve a year after undergoing six one-and-a-half-hour sessions of the talking therapy, and scored much better on questionnaires designed to measure pain and disability, as well as being more positive about dealing with the pain and less fearful over the condition.

The 701 participants, charged £187 for the six sessions, received general advice about the benefits of remaining active, avoiding bed rest and taking pain medication.

A control group received no further intervention, but 468 participants had individual assessments and six sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in groups of eight. Participants discussed beliefs about doing physical activity, countering negative thoughts, and relaxation.

The study, led by Professor Sarah Lamb at the University of Warwick, found: "Compared with advice alone, advice plus cognitive behavioural intervention was associated with significant benefits in nearly all outcomes.

"Effective treatments that result in sustained improvements in low-back pain are elusive.

"This trial shows that a bespoke cognitive behavioural intervention package, BeST, is effective in managing subacute and chronic low-back pain in primary care."

University of Warwick