A 10-year follow-up of tailored behavioural treatment and exercise-based physiotherapy for persistent musculoskeletal pain

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To study the long-term outcomes of two interventions targeting patients with sub-acute and persistent pain in a primary care physiotherapy setting.


A 10-year follow-up of a two-armed randomised controlled trial, initially including 97 participants.


Tailored behavioural medicine treatment, applied in a physiotherapy context (experimental condition), and exercise-based physiotherapy (control condition). Main measures: Pain-related disability was the primary outcome. The maximum pain intensity, pain control, fear of movement, sickness-related absence (register data) and perceived benefit and confidence in coping with future pain problems were the secondary outcomes.


Forty-three (44%) participants responded to the follow-up survey, 20 in the tailored behavioural medicine treatment group and 23 in the exercise-based physiotherapy group. The groups did not differ in terms of the change in the scores for the primary outcome (p=0.17) of pain-related disability between the experimental group (median: 2.5, Q1-Q3: -2.5-14.25), and the control group (median: 0, Q1-Q3: -5-6). Further, there were also no significant differences found for the secondary outcomes except for sickness-related absence, where the exercise-based physiotherapy group had more days of sickness-related absence three months before treatment (p= 0.02), and at the 10-year follow-up (p=0.03).


The beneficial effects favouring tailored behavioural medicine treatment that observed post-treatment and at the two-year follow-up were not maintained 10 years after treatment.

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