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Randomised controlled trial for evaluation of fitness programme for patients with chronic low back pain [with consumer summary]
Frost H, Klaber Moffett JA, Moser JS, Fairbank JC
BMJ 1995 Jan 21;310(6973):151-154
clinical trial
7/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: No; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: Yes; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: Yes; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a progressive fitness programme for patients with chronic low back pain. DESIGN: Single blind randomised controlled trial. Assessments were carried out before and after treatment by an observer blinded to the study and included a battery of validated measures. All patients were followed up by postal questionnaire six months after treatment. SETTING: Physiotherapy department of orthopaedic hospital. SUBJECTS: 81 patients with chronic low back pain referred from orthopaedic consultants for physiotherapy. The patients were randomly allocated to a fitness programme or control group. INTERVENTION: Both groups were taught specific exercises to carry out at home and referred to a back-school for education in back care. Patients allocated to the fitness class attended eight exercise classes over four weeks in addition to the home programme and backschool. RESULTS: Significant differences between the groups were shown in the changes before and after treatment in scores on the Oswestry low back pain disability index (p < 0.005), pain reports (sensory p < 0.05 and affective p < 0.005), self efficacy reports (p < 0.05), and walking distance (p < 0.005). No significant differences between the groups were found by the general health questionnaire or questionnaire on pain locus of control. A benefit of about 6 percentage points on the disability index was maintained by patients in the fitness group at six months. CONCLUSION: There is a role for supervised fitness programmes in the management of moderately disabled patients with chronic low back pain. Further clinical trials, however, need to be established in other centres to confirm these findings.
Reproduced with permission from the BMJ Publishing Group.

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