Motivational enhancement therapy in addition to physical therapy improves motivational factors and treatment outcomes in people with low back pain: A randomized controlled trial

Sinfia K. Vong, Lai Ying Gladys Cheing, Fong Chan, Eric M. So, Che Hin Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives To examine whether the addition of motivational enhancement treatment (MET) to conventional physical therapy (PT) produces better outcomes than PT alone in people with chronic low back pain (LBP). Design A double-blinded, prospective, randomized, controlled trial. Setting PT outpatient department. Participants Participants (N=76) with chronic LBP were randomly assigned to receive 10 sessions of either MET plus PT or PT alone. Intervention MET included motivational interviewing strategies and motivation-enhancing factors. The PT program consisted of interferential therapy and back exercises. Main Outcome Measures Motivational-enhancing factors, pain intensity, physical functions, and exercise compliance. Results The MET-plus-PT group produced significantly greater improvements than the PT group in 3 motivation-enhancing factors; proxy efficacy (P<.001), working alliance (P<.001), and treatment expectancy (P=.011). Furthermore, they performed significantly better in lifting capacity (P=.015), 36-Item Short Form Health Survey General Health subscale (P=.015), and exercise compliance (P=.002) than the PT group. A trend of a greater decrease in visual analog scale and Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire scores also was found in the MET-plus-PT group than the PT group. Conclusion The addition of MET to PT treatment can effectively enhance motivation and exercise compliance and show better improvement in physical function in patients with chronic LBP compared with PT alone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-183
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011


  • Low back pain
  • Motivation
  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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