, Volume 183, Issue 3, pp 341-350
Date: 15 Sep 2013

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

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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 χ 2 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.