Content » Vol 36, Issue 6

Individual or group rehabilitaion for people with low back pain: a comparative study with 6-month follow-up

Matti Nykänen A1 and Katri Koivisto A1
A1 Punkaharju Rehabilitation Centre Punkaharju Finland

DOI: 10.1080/16501970410030733


Objective: To compare the effectiveness of group rehabilitation and individually dosed rehabilitation in treating chronic low back pain. Design: Institutional rehabilitation intervention in 2 non-randomized groups with a 6-month post-intervention follow-up. Subjects: Persons with chronic low back pain: 64 group-rehabilitated and 66 individually rehabilitated. Methods: The rehabilitation period for all subjects was 21 days. Those being group-rehabilitated, about 10 patients per group, had a common programme including 3-5 exercise groups per day, group discussions and lectures including back and neck school. Local physical therapy was given if neeeded. The individually rehabilitated subjects had individually designed programmes: local physical therapy, muscle strengthening programme, group exercises and participating in back school. The duration of the guided programme was 62 hours for group rehabilitation and 45 hours for individual rehabilitation. Results: During the rehabilitation period the strength and flexibility of individually rehabilitated subjects improved more than that of group-rehabilitated subjects (p < 0. 05 and p < 0. 01, respectively). After the 6-month follow-up period, group-rehabilitated subjects showed a decrease in the Oswestry and pain indexes, while individually rehabilitated subjects showed an increase in the Oswestry index. The group-rehabilitated subjects evaluated the goals of rehabilitation to have been attained better and considered themselves better motivated in self-care. The costs of the 2 rehabilitation programs were approximately equal. Conclusion: These tentative results suggest that group rehabilitation can compete with individual rehabilitation at least in short-term follow-up.

Lay Abstract


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