Central West Health & Rehabilitation
P: (08)9965 0697 F: (08)9964 7528


Doctors With a Special Interest in Back Pain Have Poorer Knowledge About How to Treat Back Pain Jul 16th, 2014
Doctor surveys continue to demonstrate that general practitioners only partially manage low back pain (LBP) in an evidence-based way. This is despite increasing evidence that positive advice to stay active and continue or resume ordinary activities is more effective than rest and early investigation and specialist referral are unwarranted in the majority of cases. In part, this may reflect physician knowledge and beliefs, although physician behaviour may be influenced by many factors including patient expectation and other psychosocial factors.

Providers treating LBP may hold alternative beliefs regarding the association of pain and activity that may influence their practice behaviour. The preparedness of the clinicians to change may be another important barrier that has not been well studied to date.


The aim of the above study was to determine whether general practitioners’ beliefs about LBP differ according to whether they have a special interest in back pain, musculoskeletal medicine or occupational medicine; and whether these beliefs are modified by having had continuing medical education (CME) about back pain in the previous 2 years.

The results found that GP’s that suggested a ‘special interest’ in back pain were more likely to provide back pain management contrary to the best available evidence. GP’s with a special interest in occupational medicine and physicians with recent Continued CME about back pain had significantly better back pain management beliefs.


Many other factors besides the employee's medical conditions affect outcomes– e.g. organizational, work-environmental, and social. Providing employees a preferred medical provider and building a relationship with them by presenting them with appropriate and helpful information can improve not only return to work, but also patient management.