The Canadian Back Education Units (CBEU) in a review of 6418 participants found a significant subjective improvement in 69% of the participants. This figure improved to 80% when only patients who experienced back pain for six months or less were considered. Ninety-seven percent of the participants considered the back education program helpful. Patients who had completed their high school education, who believed that they understood the mechanism of the pain, and who recognized an emotional component to the problem had the best results. Functional improvement was most pronounced in the activities most often performed. Patients with pain persistently radiating below the knee and patients receiving workmen's compensation did not fare as well. Using a computer analysis of the variation in test scores from pretest to the review class, a statistically valid positive correlation was established between the patient's subjective improvement and the amount of information retained. The CBEU are an efficient, effective, well received, and cost-effective therapeutic modality in the conservative treatment of chronic low back pain.
* Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
** Research Fellow, Canadian Back Education Units, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.