Digital Support Interventions for the Self-Management of Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review

Barbara I Nicholl, Louise Fleng Sandal, Mette Jensen Stochkendahl, Marianne McCallum, Nithya Suresh, Ottar Vasseljen, Jan Hartvigsen, Paul J Mork, Per Kjær, Karen Søgaard, Frances S Mair

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Low back pain (LBP) is a common cause of disability and is ranked as the most burdensome health condition globally. Self-management, including components on increased knowledge, monitoring of symptoms, and physical activity, are consistently recommended in clinical guidelines as cost-effective strategies for LBP management and there is increasing interest in the potential role of digital health.

OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to synthesize and critically appraise published evidence concerning the use of interactive digital interventions to support self-management of LBP. The following specific questions were examined: (1) What are the key components of digital self-management interventions for LBP, including theoretical underpinnings? (2) What outcome measures have been used in randomized trials of digital self-management interventions in LBP and what effect, if any, did the intervention have on these? and (3) What specific characteristics or components, if any, of interventions appear to be associated with beneficial outcomes?

METHODS: Bibliographic databases searched from 2000 to March 2016 included Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, DoPHER and TRoPHI, Social Science Citation Index, and Science Citation Index. Reference and citation searching was also undertaken. Search strategy combined the following concepts: (1) back pain, (2) digital intervention, and (3) self-management. Only randomized controlled trial (RCT) protocols or completed RCTs involving adults with LBP published in peer-reviewed journals were included. Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts, full-text articles, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias using Cochrane risk of bias tool. An independent third reviewer adjudicated on disagreements. Data were synthesized narratively.

RESULTS: Of the total 7014 references identified, 11 were included, describing 9 studies: 6 completed RCTs and 3 protocols for future RCTs. The completed RCTs included a total of 2706 participants (range of 114-1343 participants per study) and varied considerably in the nature and delivery of the interventions, the duration/definition of LBP, the outcomes measured, and the effectiveness of the interventions. Participants were generally white, middle aged, and in 5 of 6 RCT reports, the majority were female and most reported educational level as time at college or higher. Only one study reported between-group differences in favor of the digital intervention. There was considerable variation in the extent of reporting the characteristics, components, and theories underpinning each intervention. None of the studies showed evidence of harm.

CONCLUSIONS: The literature is extremely heterogeneous, making it difficult to understand what might work best, for whom, and in what circumstances. Participants were predominantly female, white, well educated, and middle aged, and thus the wider applicability of digital self-management interventions remains uncertain. No information on cost-effectiveness was reported. The evidence base for interactive digital interventions to support patient self-management of LBP remains weak.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere179
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume19
Issue number5
Number of pages22
ISSN1439-4456
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21. May 2017

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Low Back Pain
Randomized Controlled Trials
Bibliographic Databases
Health
Pain Management
Libraries
Cost-Benefit Analysis
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)
Guidelines

Keywords

  • Journal Article

Cite this

@article{4887bf7d270542d9a5fb1865f80a5387,
title = "Digital Support Interventions for the Self-Management of Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review",
abstract = "BACKGROUND: Low back pain (LBP) is a common cause of disability and is ranked as the most burdensome health condition globally. Self-management, including components on increased knowledge, monitoring of symptoms, and physical activity, are consistently recommended in clinical guidelines as cost-effective strategies for LBP management and there is increasing interest in the potential role of digital health.OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to synthesize and critically appraise published evidence concerning the use of interactive digital interventions to support self-management of LBP. The following specific questions were examined: (1) What are the key components of digital self-management interventions for LBP, including theoretical underpinnings? (2) What outcome measures have been used in randomized trials of digital self-management interventions in LBP and what effect, if any, did the intervention have on these? and (3) What specific characteristics or components, if any, of interventions appear to be associated with beneficial outcomes?METHODS: Bibliographic databases searched from 2000 to March 2016 included Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, DoPHER and TRoPHI, Social Science Citation Index, and Science Citation Index. Reference and citation searching was also undertaken. Search strategy combined the following concepts: (1) back pain, (2) digital intervention, and (3) self-management. Only randomized controlled trial (RCT) protocols or completed RCTs involving adults with LBP published in peer-reviewed journals were included. Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts, full-text articles, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias using Cochrane risk of bias tool. An independent third reviewer adjudicated on disagreements. Data were synthesized narratively.RESULTS: Of the total 7014 references identified, 11 were included, describing 9 studies: 6 completed RCTs and 3 protocols for future RCTs. The completed RCTs included a total of 2706 participants (range of 114-1343 participants per study) and varied considerably in the nature and delivery of the interventions, the duration/definition of LBP, the outcomes measured, and the effectiveness of the interventions. Participants were generally white, middle aged, and in 5 of 6 RCT reports, the majority were female and most reported educational level as time at college or higher. Only one study reported between-group differences in favor of the digital intervention. There was considerable variation in the extent of reporting the characteristics, components, and theories underpinning each intervention. None of the studies showed evidence of harm.CONCLUSIONS: The literature is extremely heterogeneous, making it difficult to understand what might work best, for whom, and in what circumstances. Participants were predominantly female, white, well educated, and middle aged, and thus the wider applicability of digital self-management interventions remains uncertain. No information on cost-effectiveness was reported. The evidence base for interactive digital interventions to support patient self-management of LBP remains weak.",
keywords = "Journal Article",
author = "Nicholl, {Barbara I} and Sandal, {Louise Fleng} and Stochkendahl, {Mette Jensen} and Marianne McCallum and Nithya Suresh and Ottar Vasseljen and Jan Hartvigsen and Mork, {Paul J} and Per Kj{\ae}r and Karen S{\o}gaard and Mair, {Frances S}",
year = "2017",
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language = "English",
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Digital Support Interventions for the Self-Management of Low Back Pain : A Systematic Review. / Nicholl, Barbara I; Sandal, Louise Fleng; Stochkendahl, Mette Jensen; McCallum, Marianne; Suresh, Nithya; Vasseljen, Ottar; Hartvigsen, Jan; Mork, Paul J; Kjær, Per; Søgaard, Karen; Mair, Frances S.

In: Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 19, No. 5, e179, 21.05.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Digital Support Interventions for the Self-Management of Low Back Pain

T2 - A Systematic Review

AU - Nicholl, Barbara I

AU - Sandal, Louise Fleng

AU - Stochkendahl, Mette Jensen

AU - McCallum, Marianne

AU - Suresh, Nithya

AU - Vasseljen, Ottar

AU - Hartvigsen, Jan

AU - Mork, Paul J

AU - Kjær, Per

AU - Søgaard, Karen

AU - Mair, Frances S

PY - 2017/5/21

Y1 - 2017/5/21

N2 - BACKGROUND: Low back pain (LBP) is a common cause of disability and is ranked as the most burdensome health condition globally. Self-management, including components on increased knowledge, monitoring of symptoms, and physical activity, are consistently recommended in clinical guidelines as cost-effective strategies for LBP management and there is increasing interest in the potential role of digital health.OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to synthesize and critically appraise published evidence concerning the use of interactive digital interventions to support self-management of LBP. The following specific questions were examined: (1) What are the key components of digital self-management interventions for LBP, including theoretical underpinnings? (2) What outcome measures have been used in randomized trials of digital self-management interventions in LBP and what effect, if any, did the intervention have on these? and (3) What specific characteristics or components, if any, of interventions appear to be associated with beneficial outcomes?METHODS: Bibliographic databases searched from 2000 to March 2016 included Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, DoPHER and TRoPHI, Social Science Citation Index, and Science Citation Index. Reference and citation searching was also undertaken. Search strategy combined the following concepts: (1) back pain, (2) digital intervention, and (3) self-management. Only randomized controlled trial (RCT) protocols or completed RCTs involving adults with LBP published in peer-reviewed journals were included. Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts, full-text articles, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias using Cochrane risk of bias tool. An independent third reviewer adjudicated on disagreements. Data were synthesized narratively.RESULTS: Of the total 7014 references identified, 11 were included, describing 9 studies: 6 completed RCTs and 3 protocols for future RCTs. The completed RCTs included a total of 2706 participants (range of 114-1343 participants per study) and varied considerably in the nature and delivery of the interventions, the duration/definition of LBP, the outcomes measured, and the effectiveness of the interventions. Participants were generally white, middle aged, and in 5 of 6 RCT reports, the majority were female and most reported educational level as time at college or higher. Only one study reported between-group differences in favor of the digital intervention. There was considerable variation in the extent of reporting the characteristics, components, and theories underpinning each intervention. None of the studies showed evidence of harm.CONCLUSIONS: The literature is extremely heterogeneous, making it difficult to understand what might work best, for whom, and in what circumstances. Participants were predominantly female, white, well educated, and middle aged, and thus the wider applicability of digital self-management interventions remains uncertain. No information on cost-effectiveness was reported. The evidence base for interactive digital interventions to support patient self-management of LBP remains weak.

AB - BACKGROUND: Low back pain (LBP) is a common cause of disability and is ranked as the most burdensome health condition globally. Self-management, including components on increased knowledge, monitoring of symptoms, and physical activity, are consistently recommended in clinical guidelines as cost-effective strategies for LBP management and there is increasing interest in the potential role of digital health.OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to synthesize and critically appraise published evidence concerning the use of interactive digital interventions to support self-management of LBP. The following specific questions were examined: (1) What are the key components of digital self-management interventions for LBP, including theoretical underpinnings? (2) What outcome measures have been used in randomized trials of digital self-management interventions in LBP and what effect, if any, did the intervention have on these? and (3) What specific characteristics or components, if any, of interventions appear to be associated with beneficial outcomes?METHODS: Bibliographic databases searched from 2000 to March 2016 included Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, DoPHER and TRoPHI, Social Science Citation Index, and Science Citation Index. Reference and citation searching was also undertaken. Search strategy combined the following concepts: (1) back pain, (2) digital intervention, and (3) self-management. Only randomized controlled trial (RCT) protocols or completed RCTs involving adults with LBP published in peer-reviewed journals were included. Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts, full-text articles, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias using Cochrane risk of bias tool. An independent third reviewer adjudicated on disagreements. Data were synthesized narratively.RESULTS: Of the total 7014 references identified, 11 were included, describing 9 studies: 6 completed RCTs and 3 protocols for future RCTs. The completed RCTs included a total of 2706 participants (range of 114-1343 participants per study) and varied considerably in the nature and delivery of the interventions, the duration/definition of LBP, the outcomes measured, and the effectiveness of the interventions. Participants were generally white, middle aged, and in 5 of 6 RCT reports, the majority were female and most reported educational level as time at college or higher. Only one study reported between-group differences in favor of the digital intervention. There was considerable variation in the extent of reporting the characteristics, components, and theories underpinning each intervention. None of the studies showed evidence of harm.CONCLUSIONS: The literature is extremely heterogeneous, making it difficult to understand what might work best, for whom, and in what circumstances. Participants were predominantly female, white, well educated, and middle aged, and thus the wider applicability of digital self-management interventions remains uncertain. No information on cost-effectiveness was reported. The evidence base for interactive digital interventions to support patient self-management of LBP remains weak.

KW - Journal Article

U2 - 10.2196/jmir.7290

DO - 10.2196/jmir.7290

M3 - Review

C2 - 28550009

VL - 19

JO - Journal of Medical Internet Research

JF - Journal of Medical Internet Research

SN - 1439-4456

IS - 5

M1 - e179

ER -