Behaviour change techniques associated with adherence to prescribed exercise in patients with persistent musculoskeletal pain: systematic review

Review written by Dr Linda Truong info

Key Points

  • There is moderate evidence supporting the use of behaviour change techniques to improve adherence to prescribed exercise in persistent musculoskeletal pain.
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Persistent musculoskeletal pain (PMSK) are common clinical disorders treated by physiotherapists. Prescribed exercise therapy has been shown to be effective in managing these conditions, however, poor adherence to these programs limit the potential benefits of exercise therapy. Behaviour change techniques (BCTs) have shown some promise in promoting desired behaviours (1). However, both the content (what BCT was selected) as well as the context (how the BCT was delivered) can influence the effectiveness. The purpose of this review was to determine the effectiveness of BCTs in improving adherence to prescribed exercise in individuals with PMSK.

Exercise therapy has been shown to be effective in managing persistent musculoskeletal pain.
Using BCTs may help clinicians learn to treat patients more holistically while addressing the barriers and facilitators for adherence to exercise.


Five databases were searched and a risk of bias assessment was done using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Scale. Inclusion and exclusion criteria used in the review can be seen in Table 1.

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