Describing the nonsurgical, nonpharmacological interventions offered to adolescents with persistent back pain in randomized trials: A scoping review

Sara D. Hauber, Katie Robinson, Edward Kirby, Steven Kamper, Noirin Nealon Lennox, Kieran O'Sullivan

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Background and Objectives: Persistent nonspecific back pain is now established as a biopsychosocial phenomenon that can be meaningfully affected by individuals' cognitions, emotions, lifestyle factors and family and social relationships. Recent guidelines for the treatment of adolescents with persistent nonspecific back pain, as well as those for youth with mixed chronic pain, strongly recommend interdisciplinary care in which adolescents receive treatment for both mind and body. The objective of this scoping review was to examine the interventions evaluated in randomized trials for adolescents with persistent back pain to determine whether they correspond to these guidelines and to reveal future research priorities. Databases and data treatment: The review protocol was registered in March 2022. We followed the PRISMA guidelines for scoping reviews. Twelve electronic databases were searched for relevant study reports. Data were charted on study characteristics, participant characteristics and intervention details using the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) checklist. Results: The search yielded 1952 records, of which eight reports representing seven randomized trials were eligible. The most common interventions were exercise therapy (n = 6) and back education (n = 4). Five studies employed multiple intervention components, but none was multidisciplinary. Studies primarily targeted posture or biomechanical factors. One study included an intervention addressing participants' fears and beliefs about pain. Conclusions: Randomized trials for adolescents with persistent back pain have primarily relied upon an outdated, biomechanical explanation of persisting pain. Future randomized trials should align with current treatment recommendations and measure outcomes across multiple biopsychosocial domains. Significance: This scoping review describes in detail the interventions included in randomized trials for adolescents with persistent, nonspecific back pain. The review is important because it reveals discrepancies between those interventions and the interventions recommended for this population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-475
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Issue number4
Early online date31 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 31 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. European Journal of Pain published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Pain Federation - EFIC ®.


  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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