Brief Alert

Don’t Waste Money on Education

Source: Daltroy LH, et al. A controlled trial of an educational program to prevent low back injuries. N Engl J Med 1997; 337:322-328.

One might expect that an educational program aimed at preventing low back injury would do just that. Such programs are touted in the popular press and are one thing that insurance companies and HMOs are prepared to underwrite. They can’t be wrong, can they?

Over five and a half years, about 4000 postal workers were enrolled in a randomized, controlled trial designed to examine the usefulness of an educational program to prevent low back injury. After all was said and done, no difference was appreciated between control and intervention groups with respect to the rate of initial or repeat low back injury, related musculoskeletal injury including neck, chest, abdominal, hip, shoulder, trunk, or thigh injury, median cost per injury, or time lost per injury. Like crime, increasing one’s knowledge of safe behavior doesn’t pay. —mr