Background: It is unclear if the use of imaging for low back pain (LBP) is impacted by patient beliefs. This study aimed to: (1) describe beliefs about the importance of imaging and whether patients wanted imaging when presenting for chiropractic care for LBP; (2) describe associations between baseline patient characteristics and imaging beliefs and whether patients wanted imaging; and (3) determine whether patients who believed imaging to be important in the management of LBP, or who wanted to receive imaging, were more likely to receive an imaging referral.
Methods: Cross-sectional observational data was collected between November 2016 to December 2019 from 10 primary care chiropractic clinics in Denmark. Consecutive patients aged 18 or older and presenting with a new episode of LBP were included (N = 2818). Beliefs about the importance of imaging (two questions) and whether imaging was wanted (one question) were collected at the initial visit, together with baseline participant characteristics and whether an imaging referral was provided. Associations between imaging beliefs/desire to receive imaging and participant characteristics were explored using multivariable logistic regression analysis. The relationships between imaging beliefs and desire to receive imaging with subsequent imaging referral were assessed using multivariable logistic regression analysis adjusted for pre-selected confounder variables.
Results: Approximately one third of participants believed imaging to be important for the management of LBP (29.5% (95%CI 27.8, 31.3) or 41.5% (95%CI 39.6, 43.3) depending on the two imaging beliefs questions). Approximately one quarter (26.1%, 95%CI 24.5, 27.7) of participants wanted to receive an imaging referral. Participants were more likely to believe in the importance of imaging or want an imaging referral if they had a longer duration of LBP, history of previous imaging for LBP, or a lower completed education level. Participants who wanted imaging at the initial consult were more likely to receive an imaging referral (Odds ratio; 95%CI 1.6; 1.2, 2.1).
Conclusions: Approximately one third of patients presenting for chiropractic care in Denmark believed imaging to be important in the management of LBP. One quarter wanted imaging at the initial consult. Patients’ desire for imaging appeared to impact the use of diagnostic imaging.
Author keywords: Diagnostic imaging - Low back pain - Chiropractic - Patient beliefs
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