Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -)

, Volume 183, Issue 3, pp 341–350

Outcomes of a group education/exercise intervention in a population of patients with non-specific low back pain: a 3-year review

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11845-013-1013-z

Cite this article as:
Murphy, S., Blake, C., Power, C.K. et al. Ir J Med Sci (2014) 183: 341. doi:10.1007/s11845-013-1013-z



Low back pain (LBP) can prove resistant to treatment. Conservative management in form of education and exercise is advocated as a first-line treatment option. The format of exercise programmes varies, as does the scale of improvement. Individual and group models of care are commonly utilised.


To determine the effectiveness of a group education/exercise intervention in a cohort of patients with LBP in a teaching hospital in the south east of Ireland. In addition, the study explores which factors are predictive of a positive outcome.


Patients aged 18–65 years with LBP > 6 months, who completed the programme between January 2008 and December 2010 were included. Outcome measures were coded, entered into PASW 18 and cleaned. Pre and post scores were analysed with paired t tests and χ2 analysis. Multiple regression modelling was used to determine which baseline variables were independent predictors of positive outcome.


In total, 668 patients completed the programme. The mean age of patients was 45.9 ± 11.3 years and the majority of patients (69 %) were female. Three months post programme, significant improvements in all self report and objective physical measures were demonstrated (p < 0.001). Factors associated with a positive outcome included lower levels of baseline disability and distress, less baseline functional impairment, shorter duration of symptoms and not being involved in litigation.


This group-based education/exercise programme proved effective in terms of decreasing pain, improving physical function and improving psychosocial status. Identifying factors predictive of positive outcome may help maximise patient outcomes.


Low back painSelf managementEducationExerciseGroup interventionPrediction of outcome

Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Murphy
    • 1
    • 2
  • C. Blake
    • 1
  • C. K. Power
    • 3
  • B. M. Fullen
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population ScienceUniversity College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.BackCare Programme, Spinal Triage Clinic, Waterford Regional HospitalWaterfordIreland
  3. 3.Department of Anaesthesia and Pain MedicineTallaght HospitalDublinIreland