Patient education for mechanical neck disorders
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BACKGROUND: To track down the best estimate of efficacy of the various conservative management strategies for mechanical neck disorders, a four-part systematic review was prepared. Part four investigates the efficacy of patient education strategies as the therapeutic intervention. OBJECTIVES: This review of patient education is one of four reviews of conservative management of mechanical neck disorders. The other reviews address manual, physical and drug therapies. The objective of this review was to assess the effects of patient education for pain in adults with mechanical neck disorders. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched Medline, Embase, Chirolars, Index to Chiropractic Literature, Cinahl, Science Citation Index, Conference Proceedings Index, National Technical Information Services from 1985 to December 1993, reference lists of the retrieved articles and we contacted experts in the field. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised trials or controlled clinical trials of patient educational strategies for adults with mechanical neck disorders. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Three reviewers independently assessed trial quality and two reviewers independently extracted data. Investigators were contacted to obtain data that could not be found in the published reports. MAIN RESULTS: Three trials were included. Their methodological quality varied from weak to strong. One trial did not find a significant reduction in pain using group instructional strategies (neck school) and exercise with or without psychological counselling compared to no treatment (standardised mean difference 0.07, 95% confidence interval -0.51 to 0.66, and -0.37, 95% confidence interval -0.95 to 0.22, respectively). Another trial did not find a significant reduction in pain using individualised patient education (advice), anti-inflammatories and analgesics compared with placebo (standardised mean difference 0.24, 95% confidence interval -0.58 to 1.07). The third trial found that advice which included demonstrated mobilization exercises, verbal and written instruction on posture correction, the use of a collar, heat sources, muscle relaxation and analgesics gave significant pain relief compared with general advice about mobilisation after a period of rest and use of analgesics at 4 weeks of treatment (standardised mean difference -0.62, 95% confidence interval -1.05 to -0.19) but at 6 weeks of treatment there was no longer any difference (s.m.d. -0.37, 95% confidence interval -0.8 to 0.05). The first two trials lacked statistical power and the third was methodologically weak. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Patient education utilising individualised or group instructional strategies has not been shown to be beneficial in reducing pain for mechanical neck disorders.
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