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Complementary and Integrative Health

Topic change: Contextual Effects of Treatments for Patients with Back Pain: Real and Important or “Just Placebo Effects?"

by Dan Cherkin, PhD
Seminar date: 3/17/2022

Description: The Complementary and Integrative Cyberseminar series presentation, "The Rise of Integrative Health Strategies as a Potential Solution to Our Chronic Pain Mess: Does this Reflect a True Shift?" has been changed to "Contextual Effects of Treatments for Patients with Back Pain: Real and Important or “Just Placebo Effects?"

Abstract: The classic double-blind placebo-controlled study design is not helpful for evaluating the effects of non-pharmacological treatments aimed at improving care for back pain. Providing patients with a credible non-pharmacological treatment in a caring and engaged manner may be more important than which specific treatment is being used. Results of several large trials comparing variants of complementary and integrative (CIH) treatments (e.g., focused structural massage vs. relaxation massage, standardized vs. individualized acupuncture) for back pain found almost identical effect sizes. These trials also found similar effects across CIH therapies. In practice, non-specific effects may be more potent than specific effects in improving outcomes of care for back pain and other conditions. Regardless of the specific treatments they employ, clinicians can help patients by finding ways to maximize the “contextual” effects of their care.

Target Audience: Researchers interested in developing and implementing better ways to care for persons with chronic pain.

View archived session video:

DOWNLOAD: PDF handout | Audio only (mp3) | transcript

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