Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Jay R. Skidmore


Jay R. Skidmore


David Stein


Karl White


Joan Kleinke


Brian Pitcher


Chronic low-back pain is a prevalent and costly problem for many adults in the United States. Currently, multidisciplinary treatment approaches are the treatment of choice for this problem. A meta-analysis was conducted on 43 published studies to describe the nature of these programs, the patients involved in them, treatment efficacy at discharge and follow-up, and possible relationships between these characteristics and outcome.

Results show that these programs were often in university medical settings, with an emphasis on active patient participation. Common treatment approaches included physical therapy, skills training, medication management, supportive therapy, and behavior modification. Patients involved in these programs tended to be middle-aged, married, unemployed, and high-school educated, with an average pain duration of about five years.

It was concluded that patients do show improvement at treatment completion (at least one-half standard deviation change) in physical fitness, reported distress levels, daily activity, and medication usage. At follow-up improvement over pre-treatment levels was still evidenced in reported distress levels, medication usage, mood, fitness levels, daily activities, and health perceptions.

Results of correlational analyses suggest that the more impaired patients in these studies tended to show greater improvement. Data also suggest that patient dropouts rates were negatively correlated to medication usage and mood over time. Thus, improvements in these areas may be artifacts due to patient drop-out rates.

Multidisciplinary treatment programs were found to be generally effective in promoting more adaptive functioning in their patients . However, it is recommended that closer attention be given to attrition rates and other potential sources of bias to maximize confidence in treatment effectiveness.



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Psychology Commons