(HealthDay News) – Health care professionals have a substantial and lasting effect on patient attitudes and beliefs about back pain, according to research published in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Ben Darlow, of the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand, and colleagues analyzed data from interviews with 12 patients with acute (<6 weeks) back pain and 11 patients with chronic (>3 months) back pain to assess their attitudes and beliefs about back pain.

The researchers found that health care professionals had the strongest influence on patient attitudes and beliefs about back pain, whereas the Internet, family, and friends had a lesser impact. Many messages from clinicians were interpreted as meaning the back needed to be protected and could contribute to increased vigilance, worry, guilt, or frustration for the patient. Clinician reassurance and advice were associated with increased confidence and positive effects on movement and activity, respectively.

“Health care professionals have a considerable and enduring influence upon the attitudes and beliefs of people with low back pain,” the authors write. “It is important that this opportunity is used to positively influence attitudes and beliefs.”

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