Minimal physical therapy utilization compared with higher physical therapy utilization for patients with low back pain: a systematic review
Aim: Currently there is a large and perhaps unwarranted variation regarding physical therapy utilization for individuals with low back pain (LBP). The purpose of this systematic review was to compare the effects of minimal physical therapy utilization/education (two visits or less) versus typical physical therapy utilization (three visits or more) on patient-important outcomes for patients with LBP. Methods: Two independent reviewers searched Cochrane, Medline, CINAHL, Web of Science, and PEDro from database inception until March 2017. Eligible studies used a randomized design, included subjects with LBP, and compared minimal versus higher utilization. The GRADE approach was used to provide an overall level of evidence regarding utilization. Eight articles (1153 individual subjects) met the inclusion criteria. Effect sizes for each outcome measure were calculated using Hedge’s g and were adjusted for baseline values at each time period. Findings: When compared with minimal utilization, higher utilization demonstrated no significant differences on pain, disability, or quality of life at the 1-year follow-up. However, two of the three studies that analyzed cost-effectiveness found higher utilization to be more cost-effective at 1-year follow-up. Moreover, there was insufficient evidence available to investigate patient subgroups (acuity, risk for chronicity), multiple levels of utilization dosage (low, typical, and high), or intervention type. Conclusions: This review identifies the need for further research on the dosage of physical therapy among various subgroups of patients with LBP. While higher utilization may not result in significant improvements in patient-important outcomes, it may be more cost-effective for patients with chronic or complex LBP conditions when compared to minimal utilization.
Physiotherapy Theory and Practice
Ojha, Heidi; Masaracchio, Michael; Johnston, Matthew; Howard, Ralph J.; Egan, William E.; Kirker, Kaitlin; and Davenport, Todd E., "Minimal physical therapy utilization compared with higher physical therapy utilization for patients with low back pain: a systematic review" (2020). All Faculty Scholarship. 54.