Background: Low back pain is a burden worldwide and biological, psychological, and social mechanisms play a role in its development and persistence. Current guidelines support care using the biopsychosocial model. However, biomedical constructs dominate clinician training, and it is unknown the extent to which health science students understand the psychosocial determinates of a patient’s low back pain. Therefore, the aim of this scoping review is to report health science students’ current knowledge of psychosocial factors associated with low back pain.
Methods: A scoping review framework was used to search electronic databases for research examining health science students’ knowledge of psychosocial factors associated with low back pain. The nature and findings of the studies are highlighted using the data charting tool. Each study was analyzed to determine the type of outcome measurement used. Scores were compared to minimum accepted scores, between disciplines, as education advanced, and after educational modules.
Results: Fourteen studies published between 2004 and 2019 were identified. Seven healthcare disciplines were represented.
In total, 12 different measurement tools were utilized. In 9 studies students demonstrated inadequate knowledge of psychosocial factors associated with low back pain. Three tools compared disciplines and nationalities. Three tools were associated with practice behavior. Eight studies showed improvement as students’ education advanced, and 3 studies demonstrated improvements in knowledge after implementation of pain education modules of varied lengths. Of those, two showed significant improvement.
Conclusions: Health science students in these studies had substandard understanding of psychosocial factors associated with low back pain. Dedicated pain education has the potential to improve low back pain understanding, resulting in more guideline appropriate care recommendation.
Author keywords: Psychosocial factors — Low back pain — Health occupation students — Education
Author affiliations: Logan University Health Centers, Logan University, Chesterfield, Missouri, United States
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