Caring for older veterans with chronic low back pain using a geriatric syndrome approach: Rationale and methods for the aging back clinics (ABC) trial

Debra K. Weiner, Angela Gentili, Meika A. Fang, Edward Garay, Thiru Annaswamy, Steven Castle, Lenore Joseph, Laura Lawson, Cathy C. Lee, Una E. Makris, Michelle I. Rossi, Beverly Thorn, Kimberly Clemens, Dave Newman, Subashan Perera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The purpose of the ongoing trial is to improve care of older Veterans with chronic low back pain (CLBP, i.e., low back pain for ≥6 months on ≥ half the days). Current CLBP care is limited by being either overly spine-focused or non-specifically prescribed and both approaches frequently lead to suboptimal reduction in pain and improvement in function. Through prior studies we have laid the foundation for a patient-centered approach to care for older Veterans with CLBP in which the spine is a source of vulnerability but not the sole treatment target. The approach considers CLBP a geriatric syndrome, a final common pathway for the expression of multiple contributors rather than a disease of the spine. We describe here the rationale and design of a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of an older Veteran-centered approach to CLBP care in “Aging Back Clinics (ABCs)” compared with Usual Care (UC). Three hundred thirty Veterans age 65–89 with CLBP will be randomized to ABCs or UC and followed for 12 months after randomization. We will assess the impact of ABCs on our primary outcome of pain-associated disability with the Oswestry Disability Index at 6 and 12 months, and secondary outcomes of pain intensity, health-related quality of life, balance confidence, mobility and healthcare utilization. If shown efficacious, the approach tested in ABCs has the potential to transform the care of older adults with CLBP by improving the quality of life for millions, reducing morbidity and saving substantial healthcare costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106077
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
Volume95
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Keywords

  • Chronic low Back pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Geriatric
  • Low Back pain
  • Spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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