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Education can ‘change the world’: Can clinical education change the trajectory of individuals with back pain?
  1. Mary O’Keeffe1,
  2. Peter B O’Sullivan2,
  3. Kieran O’Sullivan3
  1. 1 School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  3. 3 Sports Spine Centre, Aspetar Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mary O’Keeffe, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2050, Australia; mary.okeeffe{at}

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This fourth and final BJSM editorial spotlighting Lancet’s 2018 low back pain (LBP) series1 2 focuses on four ways clinicians can provide patients with an invaluable treatment—education. This editorial excludes public education via mass media as that has been covered previously.3

Nelson Mandela asserted that ‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world’ and education is recognised as the first line treatment for individuals with LBP.1 2 Education is a low-risk, low-cost intervention—the foundation for managing LBP. At the same time education’s modest effect size means it is not a panacea for the condition. In this editorial we aim to provide BJSM readers with a four-step accelerated and concise summary of how to use the education evidence to treat individuals with back pain.

Listen and connect

Traditional clinical training prepares us to ask people with LBP a series of questions to help pinpoint the pain ‘source’ to guide management. However, we are usually unable to identify any one source or pain generator, and instead LBP involves a complex interplay of multiple factors.4 Therefore, gathering …

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  • Contributors MOK was primarily responsible for study conception and design. MOK drafted the first version of this manuscript. All authors (POS and KOS) provided critical evaluation and revision of the manuscript and have given final approval of the manuscript accepting responsibility for all aspects. Kevin Wernli created the infographic for the editorial.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests KOS serves in a voluntary capacity as Senior Associate Editor of BJSM. All three authors conduct research on a behavioural intervention called cognitive functional therapy (CFT) which places a strong focus on patient education. All authors have received payments for clinical workshops on CFT.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.