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Sara J. Golec and Alison R. Valier

Clinical Scenario: Health care clinicians are encouraged to practice according to the best available evidence for the purpose of improving patient outcomes. Clinical practice guidelines are one form of evidence that has been developed to enhance the care that patients receive for particular conditions. Low back pain is a common condition in rehabilitation medicine that places a significant financial burden on the healthcare system. Patients with low back pain often suffer great pain and disability that can last a long time, making effective and efficient care a priority. Several guidelines for the treatment of low back pain have been created; however, there is no consensus on whether following these guidelines will positively reduce the pain and disability experienced by patients. Clinical Question: Does adherence to clinical practice guidelines for patients with nonspecific low back pain reduce pain and disability? Summary of Key Findings: A total of 4 studies of level 3 or higher were found. Four studies noted an improvement in disability following guidelines adherent care. Two studies reported greater reduction in pain with guideline adherent care and 2 did not.  Clinical Bottom Line: Moderate evidence exists to support adherence to clinical practice guidelines to improve pain and disability ratings in patients with nonspecific low back pain.