Background: Low back pain is a prevalent condition that causes a substantial health burden. Despite intensive and expensive clinical efforts, its prevalence is growing. Nonpharmacologic treatments are effective at improving pain-related outcomes; however, treatment effect sizes are often modest. Physical therapy (PT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) have the most consistent evidence of effectiveness. Growing evidence also supports mindfulness-based approaches. Discussions with providers and patients highlight the importance of discussing and trying options to find the treatment that works for them and determining what to do when initial treatment is not successful. Herein, we present the protocol for a study that will evaluate evidence-based, protocol-driven treatments using PT, CBT, or mindfulness to examine comparative effectiveness and optimal sequencing for patients with chronic low back pain. Methods: The Optimized Multidisciplinary Treatment Programs for Nonspecific Chronic Low Back Pain (OPTIMIZE) Study will be a multisite, comparative effectiveness trial using a sequential multiple assessment randomized trial design enrolling 945 individuals with chronic low back pain. The co-primary outcomes will be disability (measured using the Oswestry Disability Index) and pain intensity (measured using the Numerical Pain Rating Scale). After baseline assessment, participants will be randomly assigned to PT or CBT. At week 10, participants who have not experienced at least 50% improvement in disability will be randomized to cross-over phase-1 treatments (e.g., PT to CBT) or to Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE). Treatment will consist of 8 weekly sessions. Long-term outcome assessments will be performed at weeks 26 and 52. Discussion: Results of this study may inform referring providers and patients about the most effective nonoperative treatment and/or sequence of nonoperative treatments to treat chronic low back pain. Trial registration: This study was prospectively registered on March 1, 2019, with Clinicaltrials.gov under the registration number NCT03859713 (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03859713).
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Comparative effectiveness research
- Low back pain
- Physical therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine