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Chiropractic Research Review

Campaign Improves Public's Back-Pain Beliefs

In Victoria, Australia, back pain is responsible for one-quarter of all workers' compensation claims and half the costs of all compensation claims. Due to convincing evidence that psychosocial factors may be associated with back pain more than other factors, in 1997 the Victorian WorkCover Authority started a broad-based public health campaign to alter widespread misconceptions about back pain and reduce disability costs in the state.

The campaign encouraged patients with low back pain (LBP) to stay active, exercise, remain at work, and avoid prolonged rest periods.

The authors conducted this parallel group study in Victoria, using the neighboring state of New South Wales (NSW) as a control. Telephone surveys were carried out in both states before, two years into, and two-and-a-half years into the mass-media campaign. The instruments used were the Back Beliefs Questionnaire (BBQ) and the Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire (FABQ). General practitioners' beliefs and attitudes toward back pain were recorded in a similar fashion.

Results: The questionnaires were completed by 4,730 respondents in the general population and 2,556 general practitioners. In Victoria, where the campaign was conducted, accurate knowledge about back pain increased significantly on the BBQ; back-pain sufferers in the state reported significant increases in FABQ scores in the study. The population of NSW showed no improvement in either questionnaire. General practitioners showed an increase in treatment knowledge in Victoria only.

This study shows that a broad-based media campaign may successfully improve society's knowledge about back pain. The authors write that despite criticisms of mass-media campaigns for increasing awareness on back pain, which are considered to target too broad a group, universal population changes can be attained more effectively in this way than by only targeting at-risk groups.

Buchbinder R, Jolley D, Wyatt M. 2001 Volvo Award winner in clinical studies: Effects of a media campaign on back pain beliefs and its potential influence on management of low back pain in general practice. Spine 2001:26(23), pp. 2535-2542.

Chiropractic Research Review

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