Research Article Review of “Reassuring Patients with Low Back Pain in Primary Care Consultations: Does it Happen, and Does it Matter? A ChiCo Cohort Study”

Background: Research has shown what you say to patients really matters. How you say it and what patients understand from what you say is also critical to patient outcomes. There have been numerous studies which have demonstrated the positive impact of “reassuring language” from the clinician impacting the outcome of patients with acute low back pain. The power of messaging has huge consequences in helping to reduce fear and increase patient understanding of their condition. For examples of helpful and unhelpful language, see the Spine IQ BackFacks, “You Say: They Hear:” article. Clinicians must address “fear” if they are to truly educate their patients and achieve a high level of understanding and compliance.

The importance of clinician reassurance for conservative spine care is illustrated in the newly published “ChiCo Cohort Study” by Simonsen et al.  For busy clinicians we have outlined the conclusions of this study to save you some time by highlighted the essential facts.

Conclusions: This study is another reminder about the healing power of words. What you say to patients about their low back pain can be an important part of the healing process.

Study Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore links between clinician-provided reassurance, measured by a standardized questionnaire, and patient outcomes including pain, disability, and global perceived effect (GPE).

Methods: Over 2,000 patients with low back pain (LBP) were asked to complete the Consultation-based Reassurance Questionnaire after meeting with their clinician. Pain and disability data was also collected at two weeks and three months using the GPE, Numeric Rating Scale, and Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire.

Findings: Study authors found that overall patients reported that they had received high levels of reassurance from their clinicians. At two week follow up, the association between reassurance and global perceived effect was considered to be clinically relevant. An association with LBP intensity was also present but less strong.

References: Simonsen GD, Jensen TS, Kongsted A. Reassuring Patients with Low Back Pain in Primary Care Consultations: Does it Happen, and Does it Matter? A ChiCo Cohort Study. Clin J Pain. 2021 May 20. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000946. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34010222.