Introduction Models of care (MoCs) describe evidence-informed healthcare that should be delivered to patients. Several MoCs have been implemented for low back pain (LBP) to reduce evidence-to-practice gaps and increase the effectiveness and sustainability of healthcare services. Objective To synthesise research evidence regarding core characteristics and key common elements of MoCs implemented in primary healthcare for the management of LBP. Design Scoping review. Data sources Searches on MEDLINE (PubMed), EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PEDro, Scopus, Web of Science and grey literature databases were conducted. Eligibility criteria Eligible records included MoCs implemented for adult LBP patients in primary healthcare settings. Data extraction and synthesis Data extraction was carried out independently by two researchers and included a summary of the studies, the identification of the MoCs and respective key elements, concerning levels of care, settings, health professionals involved, type of care delivered and core components of the interventions. Findings were investigated through a descriptive qualitative content analysis using a deductive approach. Results 29 studies reporting 11 MoCs were included. All MoCs were implemented in high-income countries and had clear objectives. Ten MoCs included a stratified care approach. The assessment of LBP patients typically occurred in primary healthcare while care delivery usually took place in community-based settings or outpatient clinics. Care provided by general practitioners and physiotherapists was reported in all MoCs. Education (n=10) and exercise (n=9) were the most common health interventions. However, intervention content, follow-ups and discharge criteria were not fully reported. Conclusions This study examines the features of MoCs for LBP, highlighting that research is in its early stages and stressing the need for better reporting to fill gaps in care delivery and implementation. This knowledge is crucial for researchers, clinicians and decision-makers in assessing the applicability and transferability of MoCs to primary healthcare settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere079276
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2024


  • back pain
  • health services
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • organisation of health services
  • pain management
  • primary health care


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