Persistent low back pain (PLBP) is a common and costly health problem worldwide. Better strategies to manage it are required. The purpose of this study was to longitudinally evaluate absenteeism, pain, and disability in nurses with PLBP following a cognitive functional therapy (CFT) intervention.
In this case series pilot study, 33 eligible nurses with PLBP were recruited. During the baseline phase (phase A; no intervention), outcome measures were collected on 2 occasions 6 months apart (A1 and A2). During phase B, participants received an individualized CFT intervention for 14 weeks. During phase C (no intervention), outcomes were measured immediately after the intervention, as well as 3, 6, 9, 12, and 36 months after the intervention (secondary outcomes only until 12 months). LBP-related work absenteeism, pain intensity (numerical pain rating scale) and disability (Oswestry Disability Index) were the primary outcomes. Health care seeking, a range of psychological and lifestyle variables, and global perceived effect were secondary outcomes.
Days of absenteeism due to LBP were significantly reduced in the first and second calendar years after the CFT intervention but not the third and fourth. Disability was significantly reduced immediately after (-4.4; 95% CI = -6.5 to -2.2) and at 3 months (-4.3; 95% CI = -6.6 to -2.0), 9 months (-6.0; 95% CI = -8.1 to -3.9), and 12 months (-4.9; 95% CI = -7.0 to -2.8) after the intervention. Pain was significantly reduced immediately after (-1.2; 95% CI = -1.7 to -0.8) and at 3 months (-1.5; 95% CI = -2.0 to -0.9), 9 months (-1.1; 95% CI = -1.9 to -0.3), and 12 months (-0.9; 95% CI = -1.5 to -0.2) after the intervention. Total health care seeking (consults and proportion of participants) was significantly reduced after the intervention. All psychosocial variables, except for 1, demonstrated significant improvements at all follow-up assessments.
This case series pilot study demonstrated significant reductions in LBP-related absenteeism, pain intensity, disability, health care seeking, and several psychological and lifestyle behaviors until the 1-year follow-up among nurses with PLBP following an individualized CFT intervention. Further evaluation of the efficacy of CFT in high-quality randomized clinical trials among nurses is recommended.