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A physiotherapy triage assessment service for people with low back disorders: evaluation of short-term outcomes

Authors Bath B , Pahwa

Received 10 March 2012

Accepted for publication 30 March 2012

Published 14 June 2012 Volume 2012:3 Pages 9—19


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Brenna Bath, Punam Pahwa
College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Purpose: To determine the short-term effects of physiotherapy triage assessments on self-reported pain, functioning, and general well-being and quality of life in people with low back-related disorders.
Methods: Participants with low back–related complaints were recruited from those referred to a spinal triage assessment program delivered by physiotherapists (PTs). Before undergoing the triage assessment, the participants completed a battery of questionnaires covering a range of sociodemographic, clinical, and psychosocial features. The study used the Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS), the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and the Medical Outcomes Survey 36-item short-form version 2 (SF-36v2) to assess self-reported pain, function, and quality of life. Baseline measures and variables were analyzed using a descriptive analysis method (ie, proportions, means, medians). Paired samples t-tests or Wilcoxon matched-pair signed-rank tests were used to analyze the overall group differences between the pretest and posttest outcome measures where appropriate.
Results: A total of 108 out of 115 (93.9%) participants completed the posttest survey. The Physical Component Summary of the SF36v2 was the only measure that demonstrated significant improvement (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: A spinal triage assessment program delivered by PTs can be viewed as a complex intervention that may have the potential to affect a wide range of patient-related outcomes. Further research is needed to examine the long-term outcomes and explore potential mechanisms of improvement using a biopsychosocial framework.

Keywords: interprofessional practice, quality of life, back pain, orthopedics

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