Improving adherence to guidelines for spine pain care: what tools could support primary care clinicians in conforming to guidelines?


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BACKGROUND: Spine pain is one of the most common conditions seen in primary care and is often treated with ineffective, aggressive interventions, such as prescription pain medications, imagery and referrals to surgery. Aggressive treatments are associated with negative side effects and high costs while conservative care has lower risks and costs and equivalent or better outcomes. Despite multiple well-publicised treatment guidelines and educational efforts recommending conservative care, primary care clinicians (PCCs) widely continue to prescribe aggressive, low-value care for spine pain. METHODS: In this qualitative study semistructured interviews were conducted with PCCs treating spine pain patients to learn what prevents clinicians from following guidelines and what tools or support could promote conservative care. Interviews were conducted by telephone, transcribed and coded for thematic analysis. RESULTS: Forty PCCs in academic and private practice were interviewed. Key reflections included that while familiar with guidelines recommending conservative treatment, they did not find guidelines useful or relevant to care decisions for individual patients. They believed that there is an insufficient body of real-world evidence supporting positive outcomes for conservative care and guidance recommendations. They indicated that spine pain patients frequently request aggressive care. These requests, combined with the PCCs' commitment to reaching shared treatment decisions with patients, formed a key reason for pursuing aggressive care. PCCs reported not being familiar with risk-screening tools for spine patients but indicated that such screens might increase their confidence to recommend conservative care to low-risk patients. CONCLUSIONS: PCCs may be more willing to give conservative, guideline-consistent care for spine pain if they had tools to assist in making patient-specific evaluations and in countering requests for unneeded aggressive care. Such tools would include both patient risk screens and shared decision-making aids that include elements for resolving patient demands for inappropriate care.


2399-6641Fifer, Sheila KeanOrcid: 0000-0003-3136-2832Choundry, Niteesh KBrod, MerylHsu, EugeneMilstein, ArnoldJournal ArticleResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tEngland2022/08/10BMJ Open Qual. 2022 Aug;11(3):e001868. doi: 10.1136/bmjoq-2022-001868.

Last updated on 11/18/2022