Home-Based Telemedicine in Patients with Chronic Neck Pain

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Abstract

Objective

To investigate if a structured physician-directed, nurse-managed, home-based telemedicine (HBT) program, consisting of scheduled/unscheduled phone surveillance, can reduce pain in patients with chronic neck pain.

Design

This is a prospective randomized controlled study conducted on outpatients. Following outpatient rehabilitation, patients (n = 100) were consecutively randomized to a 6-month HBT program (HBT group) or no HBT but only the recommendation to continue exercising at home (control group). At baseline and after 6 months, pain severity (visual analog scale) and disability (Neck Disability Index) were evaluated.

Results

At 6 months, neck pain and disability declined in both groups (P < 0.001 for both groups, both parameters), but the decline was significantly more marked in the HBT group (P = 0.001, both parameters). At 6 months, 87.2% of HBT patients and 65.9% of control subjects were performing home exercises (in the range of 2–7 exercise sessions/wk). Pain and disability scores were correlated to participation in the HBT program, patients’ perception of HBT, and adherence to home exercises.

Conclusions

Home-based telemedicine may be a useful additional tool to help physicians in the management of chronic neck pain.

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