Effectiveness of multifaceted implementation strategies for the implementation of back and neck pain guidelines in health care: A systematic review

Arnela Suman, Marije F. Dikkers, Frederieke G. Schaafsma*, Maurits W. van Tulder, Johannes R. Anema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Background: For the optimal use of clinical guidelines in daily practice, mere distribution of guidelines and materials is not enough, and active implementation is needed. This review investigated the effectiveness of multifaceted implementation strategies compared to minimal, single, or no implementation strategy for the implementation of non-specific low back and/or neck pain guidelines in health care. Methods: The following electronic databases were searched from inception to June 1, 2015: MEDLINE, Embase, PsycInfo, the Cochrane Library, and CINAHL. The search strategy was restricted to low back pain, neck pain, and implementation research. Studies were included if their design was a randomized controlled trial, reporting on patients (age ≥18years) with non-specific low back pain or neck pain (with or without radiating pain). Trials were eligible if they reported patient outcomes, measures of healthcare professional behaviour, and/or outcomes on healthcare level. The primary outcome was professional behaviour. Guidelines that were evaluated in the studies had to be implemented in a healthcare setting. No language restrictions were applied, and studies had to be published full-text in peer-reviewed journals, thus excluding abstract only publications, conference abstracts, and dissertation articles. Two researchers independently screened titles and abstract, extracted data from included studies, and performed risk of bias assessments. Results: After removal of duplicates, the search resulted in 4750 abstracts to be screened. Of 43 full-text articles assessed for eligibility, 12 were included in this review, reporting on 9 individual studies, and separate cost-effectiveness analyses of 3 included studies. Implementation strategies varied between studies. Meta-analyses did not reveal any differences in effect between multifaceted strategies and controls. Conclusion: This review showed that multifaceted strategies for the implementation of neck and/or back pain guidelines in health care do not significantly improve professional behaviour outcomes. No effects on patient outcomes or cost of care could be found. More research is necessary to determine whether multifaceted implementation strategies are conducted as planned and whether these strategies are effective in changing professional behaviour and thereby clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126
JournalImplementation Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2016


  • Guideline implementation
  • Multifaceted implementation strategies
  • Non-specific low back pain
  • Systematic review


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