Identifying the best treatment among common nonsurgical neck pain treatments: a decision analysis

Publication type
Journal article
van der Velde G, Hogg-Johnson S, Bayoumi AM, Cassidy JD, Cote P, Boyle E, Llewellyn-Thomas H, Chan S, Subrata P, Hoving J, Hurwitz EL, Bombardier C, Krahn M
Date published
2008 Feb 15
Open Access?

STUDY DESIGN: Decision analysis. OBJECTIVE: To identify the best treatment for nonspecific neck pain. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: In Canada and the United States, the most commonly prescribed neck pain treatments are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), exercise, and manual therapy. Deciding which treatment is best is difficult because of the trade-offs between beneficial and harmful effects, and because of the uncertainty of these effects. METHODS: (Quality-adjusted) life expectancy associated with standard NSAIDs, Cox-2 NSAIDs, exercise, mobilization, and manipulation were compared in a decision-analytic model. Estimates of the course of neck pain, background risk of adverse events in the general population, treatment effectiveness and risk, and patient-preferences were input into the model. Assuming equal effectiveness, we conducted a baseline analysis using risk of harm only. We assessed the stability of the baseline results by conducting a second analysis that incorporated effectiveness data from a high-quality randomized trial. RESULTS: There were no important differences across treatments. The difference between the highest and lowest ranked treatments predicted by the baseline model was 4.5 days of life expectancy and 3.4 quality-adjusted life-days. The difference between the highest and lowest ranked treatments predicted by the second model was 7.3 quality-adjusted life-days. CONCLUSION: When the objective is to maximize life expectancy and quality-adjusted life expectancy, none of the treatments in our analysis were clearly superior