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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Low back pain education and short term quality of life: a randomized trial

Sedigheh Sadat Tavafian1, Ahmadreza Jamshidi2, Kazem Mohammad3 and Ali Montazeri14*

Author Affiliations

1 Iranian Institute for Health Sciences Research, Tehran, Iran

2 Rheumatology Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 Public Health and Health Policy, Division of Community-Based Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2007, 8:21  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-21

Published: 28 February 2007



Different interventions can reduce the burden of the chronic low back pain. One example is the use of a 'Back School Programme'. This is a brief therapy that uses a health education method to empower participants through a procedure of assessment, education and skill development. This study aimed to evaluate to what extent the programme could improve quality of life in those who suffer from the condition.


This was a randomized controlled trial. One-hundred and two female patients with low back pain (n = 102) were randomly allocated into two groups, matched in terms of age, weight, education, socioeconomic status, occupation and some aspects of risk behavior. Group 1 (back school group, n = 50) but not group 2 (clinic group, n = 52) received the 'Back School Programme'. Then quality of life using the Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) was assessed at two time points: at baseline and at three months follow-up. The findings were compared both within and between two groups.


The 'Back School Programme' was effective in improving patients' quality of life; significant differences were found on all eight subscales of the SF-36 for group 1. In the clinic group (group 2), improvement was observed on three scales (bodily pain, vitality and mental health) but these improvements were less than in group 1. The mean improvement over all eight subscales of the SF-36 was significantly better for the 'Back School Programme' group.


The 'Back School Programme' is an effective intervention and might improve the quality of life over a period of 3 months in patients who experience chronic low back pain.