What is the perceived impact of Alexander technique lessons on health status, costs and pain management in the real life setting of an English hospital? The results of a mixed methods evaluation of an Alexander technique service for those with chronic back pain
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Abstract Background Randomised controlled trial evidence indicates that Alexander Technique is clinically and cost effective for chronic back pain. The aim of this mixed methods evaluation was to explore the role and perceived impact of Alexander Technique lessons in the naturalistic setting of an acute hospital Pain Management Clinic in England. Methods To capture changes in health status and resource use amongst service users, 43 service users were administered three widely used questionnaires (Brief Pain Inventory, MYMOP and Client Service Resource Inventory) at three time points: baseline, six weeks and three months after baseline. We also carried out 27 telephone interviews with service users and seven face-to-face interviews with pain clinic staff and Alexander Technique teachers. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and qualitative data were analysed thematically. Results Those taking Alexander Technique lessons reported small improvements in health outcomes, and condition-related costs fell. However, due to the non-randomised, uncontrolled nature of the study design, changes cannot be attributed to the Alexander Technique lessons. Service users stated that their relationship to pain and pain management had changed, especially those who were more committed to practising the techniques regularly. These changes may explain the reported reduction in pain-related service use and the corresponding lower associated costs. Conclusions Alexander Technique lessons may be used as another approach to pain management. The findings suggests that Alexander Technique lessons can help improve self-efficacy for those who are sufficiently motivated, which in turn may have an impact on service utilisation levels.