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Papers of the Week

Papers: 8 Jul 2023 - 14 Jul 2023

Clinical, Psychology

Human Studies, In Silico Studies, Neurobiology

Musculoskeletal Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Jul 07

NPJ Digit Med




Randomized-controlled trial assessing a digital care program versus conventional physiotherapy for chronic low back pain.


Cui D, Janela D, Costa F, Molinos M, Areias AC, Moulder RG, Scheer JK, Bento V, Cohen SP, Yanamadala V, Correia FD


Low back pain (LBP) is the world’s leading cause of years lived with disability. Digital exercise-based interventions have shown great potential in the management of musculoskeletal conditions, promoting access and easing the economic burden. However, evidence of their effectiveness for chronic LBP (CLBP) management compared to in-person physiotherapy has yet to be unequivocally established. This randomized controlled trial (RCT) aims to compare the clinical outcomes of patients with CLBP following a digital intervention versus evidence-based in-person physiotherapy. Our results demonstrate that patient satisfaction and adherence were high and similar between groups, although a significantly lower dropout rate is observed in the digital group (11/70, 15.7% versus 24/70, 34.3% in the conventional group; P = 0.019). Both groups experience significant improvements in disability (primary outcome), with no differences between groups in change from baseline (median difference: -0.55, 95% CI: -2.42 to 5.81, P = 0.412) or program-end scores (-1.05, 95% CI: -4.14 to 6.37; P = 0.671). Likewise, no significant differences between groups are found for secondary outcomes (namely pain, anxiety, depression, and overall productivity impairment). This RCT demonstrates that a remote digital intervention for CLBP can promote the same levels of recovery as evidence-based in-person physiotherapy, being a potential avenue to ease the burden of CLBP.