Original research| Volume 96, ISSUE 7, P1200-1207, July 2015

Health Behavior Change Counseling in Surgery for Degenerative Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Part I: Improvement in Rehabilitation Engagement and Functional Outcomes

Published:March 28, 2015DOI:



      To examine whether a brief motivational interviewing [MI]–based health behavior change counseling (HBCC) intervention increased patient participation in physical therapy and/or home exercise programs (HEPs), reduced disability, and improved health status after surgery for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis.


      Prospective clinical trial.


      Academic medical center.


      From December 2009 through August 2012, consecutive patients (N=122) underwent surgery for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis and, based on enrollment date, were prospectively assigned to a control (n=59) or HBCC intervention (n=63) group in a prospective, lagged-control clinical trial.


      Brief MI-based HBCC versus attention control.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Rehabilitation participation (primary); disability and health status (secondary). Therapists assessed engagement in, and patients reported attendance at, postoperative rehabilitation (physical therapy and/or HEP). At 3 and 6 months, disability and health status were assessed (Oswestry Disability Index [ODI] and Medical Outcomes Study 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey, version 2 [SF-12v2]) (significance, P<.05).


      Compared with controls, HBCC patients had significantly higher rehabilitation engagement (21.20±4.56 vs 23.57±2.71, respectively; P<.001), higher physical therapy (.67±.21 vs .82±.16, respectively; P<.001) and HEP (.65±.23 vs .75±.22, respectively; P=.019) attendance, and better functional outcomes at 3 months (difference: ODI, −10.7±4.4, P=.015; SF-12v2, 6.2±2.2, P=.004) and 6 months (difference: ODI, −12.7±4.8, P=.008; SF-12v2, 8.9±2.4, P<.001). The proportion of the HBCC intervention impact on functional recovery mediated by rehabilitation participation was approximately half at 3 months and one-third at 6 months.


      HBCC can improve outcomes after spine surgery through improved rehabilitation participation.


      List of abbreviations:

      HBCC (health behavior change counseling), HEP (home exercise program), HRERS (Hopkins Rehabilitation Engagement Rating Scale), MCID (minimum clinically important difference), MI (motivational interviewing), ODI (Oswestry Disability Index), PCS (physical component score), PT (physical therapy), SF-12v2 (Medical Outcomes Study 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey, version 2)
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