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Scandinavian Journal of Pain

Official Journal of the Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

Editor-in-Chief: Werner, Mads

CiteScore 2018: 0.85

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.494
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.427

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Volume 16, Issue 1


The effects of a brief educational intervention on medical students’ knowledge, attitudes and beliefs towards low back pain

Christina Abdel Shaheed
  • Corresponding author
  • School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  • School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Jane Graves / Chris Maher
  • Corresponding author
  • School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  • Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2017-07-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjpain.2017.04.002


Background and aims

Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs towards low back pain (LBP) can significantly impact a health care provider’s clinical decision making. Several studies have investigated interventions designed to change practitioner attitudes and beliefs towards LBP, however no such studies involving medical students have been identified.


This study explored medical students ‚ knowledge, attitudes and beliefs towards LBP before and after a brief educational intervention on LBP. Responses from medical students (n = 93) were evaluated before and after a 15-min educational video on back pain. The intervention was developed using Camtasia™ video editor and screen recorder. Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs were measured using the “Modified Back Beliefs Questionnaire”, with items from two previously reported questionnaires on back beliefs. The questionnaire asks participants to indicate their agreement with statements about LBP on a 5-point Likert scale. Preferred responses were based on guidelines for the evidence-based management of LBP. The primary analysis evaluated total score on the nine-inevitability items of the Back Beliefs Questionnaire (“inevitability score”).


Following the brief intervention there was a significant improvement in the inevitability score (post-workshop mean [SD] 20.8 [4.9] vs pre-workshop mean [SD] 26.9 [4.2]; mean difference (MD) 6.1, p < 0.001; lower score more favourable 1) and large improvements in the proportion of students providing correct responses to items on activity (pre: 49% vs post: 79%), bed rest (41% vs 75%), imaging (44% vs 74%) and recovery (25% vs 66%).


After watching the educational video students’ knowledge, beliefs and attitudes towards LBP improved and thus aligned more closely with evidence-based guidelines.


Medical doctors are at the forefront of managing low back pain in the community, however there is a need to strengthen musculoskeletal education in medical training programmes. The results from this research suggest educational interventions on back pain do not need to be extensive in order to have favourable outcomes on medical students’ knowledge, attitudes and beliefs towards back pain. The translational effects of these changes into clinical practice are not known.

Keywords: Low back pain; Attitudes; Beliefs; Knowledge; Medical education


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About the article

School of Medicine, Building 30 Goldsmith Avenue, Campbelltown, NSW 2560, Australia.

Received: 2017-02-16

Revised: 2017-03-30

Accepted: 2017-04-01

Published Online: 2017-07-01

Published in Print: 2017-07-01

Conflict of interest: CGM has been an investigator on 2 trials evaluating medicines for back pain that received industry co-funding.

Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Citation Information: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, Volume 16, Issue 1, Pages 101–104, ISSN (Online) 1877-8879, ISSN (Print) 1877-8860, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjpain.2017.04.002.

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