University of Limerick
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Competences to self-manage low back pain among care-seeking adolescents from general practice - a qualitative study

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-12-08, 11:54 authored by Christian Lund Straszek, Lotte Stausgaard Skrubbeltrang, KIERAN O'SULLIVANKIERAN O'SULLIVAN, Janus Laust Thomsen, Michael Skovdal Rathleff

Background There is limited knowledge about when and how adolescents with low back pain (LBP) interact with health care providers. This limits our understanding of how to best help these young patients. This study aimed to understand when and how care-seeking adolescents with LBP interact with health care providers and which health literacy competencies and strategies do they use to self-managing their LBP. Method Ten semi-structured interviews (duration 20–40 min) were conducted online among adolescents aged 15–18 with current or recent LBP (pain duration range; 9 months – 5 years). The interview guide was informed by literature on health literacy and self-management in patients. We conducted a semantic and latent thematic data analyses. Results Three major themes emerged from the analysis: (1) Self-management, (2) Pain and Function, and (3) Communication. All adolescents were functionally limited by their pain but the main reason to consult a health care provider was an increase in pain intensity. Many were able to navigate the healthcare system, but experienced difficulties in communicating with health care providers, and many felt that they were not being taken seriously. Their first line self-management option was often over-the-counter pain medicine with limited effects. Most adolescents expressed a desire to self-manage their LBP but needed more guidance from health care providers. Conclusion Adolescents with LBP seek care when pain intensifies, but they lack self-management strategies. Many adolescents want to self-manage their LBP with guidance from health care providers, but insufficient communication is a barrier for collaboration on self-management.



BMC Primary Care 24, 252


Springer nature

Other Funding information

Danish Association of Physiotherapists and University College of Northern Denmark

Also affiliated with

  • Health Research Institute (HRI)

Sustainable development goals

  • (3) Good Health and Well-being

Department or School

  • Allied Health
  • Physical Education and Sports Science

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