Self-management of Persistent Neck Pain : A Multi-component Group Intervention in Primary Health Care

Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis was to evaluate effects of a multi-component pain and stress self-management group intervention (PASS) and to explore plausible predictors associated with short-term and long-term treatment effects among patients with persistent tension-type neck pain in primary health care (PHC). Study I was a pilot study in order to explore feasibility of the study design and methods. It included 37 participants randomly assigned to the intervention (n=18) or treatment-as-usual (n=19). Study II-III was a pragmatic randomized controlled trial that compared effects of the PASS and individually administered physiotherapy (IAPT) on patients with persistent tension-type neck pain in PHC. Study II evaluated short-term effects over a 20-week follow-up. Study III evaluated long-term effects on maintenance over a follow-up period of 2 years. Studies included 156 participants randomly assigned to PASS (n=77) or IAPT (n=79). Study IV explored predictive factors for favorable outcome in disability regarding participants assigned to PASS. The results showed that PASS had better effects than IAPT regarding coping with pain, in terms of patients’ ability to control pain, self-efficacy regarding activities interfered with by pain, disability and catastrophizing, over the 20-week follow-up, and treatment effects were largely maintained over a 2-year follow-up. Post-treatment scores in disability, self-efficacy and pain intensity were associated with long-term outcome in pain-related disability 2 years post-treatment following PASS. Pre-treatment characteristics explained only a minor proportion of variance in disability, and were assumed weakly associated with treatment success and long-term outcome. Key components for enhancement of long-term efficacy in pain self-management coping efforts were adequately targeted by PASS. It is suggested important to strengthen self-efficacy beliefs in regard to pain coping, to reduce disability and enhance pain self-management in the treatment of persistent neck pain, and to induce long-term maintenance of treatment gains on disability following a pain self-management intervention.