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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 Sep 2023 - 22 Sep 2023

Clinical, Psychology, Review

Human Studies, Neurobiology

Orofacial/Head Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities


Pain Rep




Effectiveness of psychological interventions delivered by physiotherapists in the management of neck pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis.


Farrell SF, Edmunds D, Fletcher J, Martine H, Mohamed H, Liimatainen J, Sterling M


Physiotherapists are increasingly using psychological treatments for musculoskeletal conditions. We assessed the effects of physiotherapist-delivered psychological interventions on pain, disability, and quality of life in neck pain. We evaluated quality of intervention reporting. We searched databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comprising individuals with acute or chronic whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) or nontraumatic neck pain (NTNP), comparing physiotherapist-delivered psychological interventions to standard care or no treatment. Data were extracted regarding study characteristics and outcomes. Standardised mean difference (SMD) was calculated by random-effects meta-analysis. We evaluated certainty of evidence using Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) and intervention reporting using TIDieR. Fourteen RCTs (18 articles-4 detail additional outcome/follow-up data) were included comprising 2028 patients, examining acute WAD (n = 4), subacute/mixed NTNP (n = 3), chronic WAD (n = 2), and chronic NTNP (n = 5). Treatment effects on pain favoured psychological interventions in chronic NTNP at short-term (SMD -0.40 [95% CI -0.73, -0.07]), medium-term (SMD -0.29 [95% CI -0.57, 0.00]), and long-term (SMD -0.32 [95% CI -0.60, -0.05]) follow-up. For disability, effects favoured psychological interventions in acute WAD at short-term follow-up (SMD -0.39 [95% CI -0.72, -0.07]) and chronic NTNP at short-term (SMD -0.53 [95% CI -0.91, -0.15]), medium-term (SMD -0.49 [95% CI -0.77, -0.21]), and long-term (SMD -0.60 [95% CI -0.94, -0.26]) follow-up. GRADE ratings were typically moderate, and intervention reporting often lacked provision of trial materials and procedural descriptions. Psychological interventions delivered by physiotherapists were more effective than standard physiotherapy for chronic NTNP (small-to-medium effects) and, in the short term, acute WAD.