App-based multidisciplinary back pain treatment versus combined physiotherapy plus online education

Abstract

Non-specific low back pain (LBP) is one of the leading causes of global disability. Multidisciplinary pain treatment (MPT) programs comprising educational, physical, and psychological interventions have shown positive treatment effects on LBP. Nonetheless, such programs are costly and treatment opportunities are often limited to specialized medical centers. mHealth and other digital interventions may be a promising method to successfully support patient self-management in LBP. To address these issues, we investigated the clinical effects of a multidisciplinary mHealth back pain App (Kaia App) in a randomized controlled trial (registered at German Clinical Trials Register under DRKS00016329). One-hundred one adult patients with non-specific LBP from 6 weeks to 1 year were randomly assigned to an intervention group or a control group. In the intervention group, the Kaia App was provided for 3 months. Control treatment consisted of six individual physiotherapy sessions over 6 weeks and high-quality online education. The primary outcome, pain intensity, was assessed at 12-week follow-up on an 11-point numeric rating scale (NRS). Our per-protocol analysis showed no significant differences between the groups at baseline (Kaia App group: M = 5.10 (SD = 1.07) vs. control group: M = 5.41 (SD = 1.15). At 12-week follow-up the Kaia App group reported significantly lower pain intensity (M = 2.70 (SD = 1.51)) compared to the control group (M = 3.40 (SD = 1.63)). Our results indicate that the Kaia App as a multidisciplinary back pain app is an effective treatment in LBP patients and is superior to physiotherapy in combination with online education.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41746-019-0109-x