Back Pain Survey
Purpose: The primary objective of this study was to survey the knowledge of low back pain (LBP) and physical activity with LBP among those prescribing or delivering physical activity in the community. The secondary objective was to survey their confidence in prescribing physical activity in general as well as their knowledge, attitudes, and practices for promoting physical activity for patients with LBP. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was administered to physiotherapists and physical trainers involved in the delivery of exercise programs in Hamilton, Ontario. One demographic survey and two sets of questionnaires (one for physiotherapists and another version for trainers) were developed to collect data. Data was collected using a modified version of a questionnaire that evaluates knowledge of physical activity guidelines for prescribing physical activity and knowledge of barriers and enablers to exercise, participant’s knowledge of LBP was assessed using the validated Back Beliefs Questionnaire (BBQ), and items from the Örebro LBP screening questionnaire (Örebro) were adapted to evaluate psychological beliefs associated with back pain. Results: A total of 14 (35.9%) physiotherapists and 25 (64.1%) physical trainers completed the survey. Our results demonstrated that both physiotherapists and trainers often assessed their client’s physical activity and were aware of the current Canadian guidelines for physical activity. When prescribing physical activity, physiotherapists and trainers often use tools such as action planning and goal setting, while trainers were more likely to use wearable devices to track physical activity. Both groups demonstrated high confidence in prescribing physical activity, although the perceived exercise intensity that constitutes physical activity was different between groups. Specifically, physiotherapists often agree that a lower intensity of physical activity is enough to meet physical activity recommendations, despite the recommended intensity being moderate physical activity in the current Canadian guidelines. Surprisingly, lack of time and beliefs of patients were not seen as barriers to physical activity promotion. In general, both groups believe that group sessions are not feasible within the context of promoting physical activity, although many community programs are delivered in this format. The results showed that trainers had more pessimistic beliefs about the consequences of LBP compared to physiotherapists. Trainers also had more negative beliefs and attitudes about LBP. The findings may indicate the need for developing a structured education program to improve the attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge of those delivering physical activity programs to patients with LBP in the community to improve the uptake of physical activity in this patient group.