Pain, disability and adherence to home exercises in patients with chronic neck pain: Long term effects of phone surveillance. A randomized controlled study

B. Gialanella, L. Comini, A. Olivares, E. Gelmini, E. Ubertini, G. Grioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Effectiveness of phone surveillance and other communication technologies in the management of neck pain patients have been evaluated previously only at the suspension of the service. AIM: To verify whether a phone surveillance program can improve pain, disability, and adherence to home exercises in neck pain patients, and whether the improvement achieved continues to be maintained also after suspension of the support. DESIGN: This is a randomized controlled study. SETTING: Outpatients of Rehabilitation Unit. POPULATION: 84 out of 100 outpatients consecutively randomized (by blocks of four) to Phone group (N.=42, performing a 6-month home-based phone surveillance program) or to Control group (N.=42, with the only recommendation to continue exercising at home without phone surveillance) were considered. The home-based phone surveillance program consisted of 12 scheduled phone calls, each performed every fortnight by a nurse-tutor with expertise in rehabilitation for the first six months of the study. At the end of phone surveillance period, Phone patients were encouraged to continue home exercises for a further 6 months period. METHODS: Pain severity (assessed with Pain VAS), disability (Neck Disability Index), and adherence to exercises performed at home (classified as: ≥5 sessions/week, 2-4 sessions/week, occasional or no sessions) were outcome measures. Pain severity and disability were assessed at entry, at 6 and 12 months, while adherence to exercises was self-reported and recorded at 6 and 12 months. Differences between groups were analyzed with χ2 test, Student's t-test or ANOVA. RESULTS: At 6 months, Pain VAS (P=0.013) and Neck Disability Index scores (P=0.012) were lower in Phone patients than Controls. At 12 months, Neck Disability Index scores (P=0.026) continued to be lower in Phone patients than Controls. At 6 months, 97.6% of Phone patients and 80.9% of Controls performed rehabilitation at home with a range of 2 to 7 sessions/week; while at 12 months, the respective percentages of Phone and Control patients were 92.9% and 73.8%. Adherence to home exercises was higher in Phone patients than in Controls at 6 (P=0.013) and 12 months (P=0.019). CONCLUSIONS: In patients with chronic neck pain, the positive effects of phone surveillance on the neck disability and adherence to home exercises still persist 6 months after the suspension of the support. CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: This knowledge can be useful for physicians to plan home rehabilitation of neck pain patients. © 2020 Edizioni Minerva Medica. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-111
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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