One Treatment Does Not Fit All When It Comes To Low Back Pain

Copenhagen, Denmark – When it comes to choosing treatment for low back pain (LBP), patients have to choose from an array of treatment options. The decision is complicated, however, by the conflicting evidence and the lack of certainty about recovery with any treatment modality.

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark set out to investigate patients’ preferences with regard to LBP treatment by quantifying the utilities and trade-offs of treatment options and treatment outcomes from the patient perspective.

In the article, “Patient Preferences for Treatment of Low Back Pain – A Discrete Choice Experiment,” the researchers suggest that one type of treatment does not fit all and that health care practitioners need to make highly individualized decisions, taking both evidence and patient preferences into account.

Researchers found that responding patients assign positive utilities to positive treatment outcomes, and disutility to higher risks and longer waits for effects of treatment and surgical interventions. Significant heterogeneity within the sample is shown, however, for the outcomes of pain reduction, the ability to pursue activities of daily living, and for the treatment modality. Interestingly, most of the included patients strongly prefer non-surgical interventions and are willing to wait for more ideal outcomes and preferred interventions.

“The results truly show that health care professionals have an important task in clearly communicating the expected results of treatment and the basis of their treatment decisions, as patients’ preferences are highly individual,” says the lead researcher on the study, Mirja Elisabeth Kløjgaard, PhD student at CAST/COHERE, University of Southern Denmark.


Value in Health (ISSN 1098-3015) publishes papers, concepts, and ideas that advance the field of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research as well as policy papers to help health care leaders make evidence-based decisions. The journal is published bi-monthly and has over 8,000 subscribers (clinicians, decision-makers, and researchers worldwide).

International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

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