Coping and Management Techniques Used by Chronic Low Back Pain Patients Receiving Treatment From Chiropractors

Published in: Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Volume 42, Issue 8, pages 582–593 (October 1, 2019). doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2019.07.002

Posted on RAND.org on June 09, 2020

by Cathy D. Sherbourne, Gery W. Ryan, Margaret D. Whitley, Carlos Ignacio Gutierrez Gaviria, Ron D. Hays, Patricia M. Herman, Ian D. Coulter

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Objectives

The purpose of this study was to describe coping strategies (eg, mechanisms, including self-treatment) that a person uses to reduce pain and its impact on functioning as reported by patients with chronic low back pain who were seen by doctors of chiropractic and how these coping strategies vary by patient characteristics.

Methods

Data were collected from a national sample of US chiropractic patients recruited from chiropractic practices in 6 states from major geographical regions of the United States using a multistage stratified sampling strategy. Reports of coping behaviors used to manage pain during the past 6 months were used to create counts across 6 domains: cognitive, self-care, environmental, medical care, social activities, and work. Exploratory analyses examined counts in domains and frequencies of individual items by levels of patient characteristics.

Results

A total of 1677 respondents with chronic low back pain reported using an average of 9 coping behaviors in the prior 6 months. Use of more types of behaviors were reported among those with more severe back pain, who rated their health as fair or poor and who had daily occurrences of pain. Exercise was more frequent among the healthy and  those with less pain. Female respondents tended to report using more coping behaviors than men, and Hispanics more than non-Hispanics.

Conclusion

Persons with chronic back pain were proactive in their coping strategies and frequently used self-care coping strategies like those provided by chiropractors in patient education. In alignment with patients' beliefs that their condition was chronic and lifelong, many patients attempted a wide range of coping strategies to relieve their pain.

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