How was the SPORT Research Conducted?
Typically, patients are "randomized", meaning that those who agree to take part in a trial also agree that they will be randomly selected to receive the treatment or not. This is often done by giving one group of patients the actual drug or treatment, while the other group receives a placebo. Trial participants generally do not know which treatment they are receiving. This is called a "blinded" study.
In the case of back surgery, of course, there is no way to "blind" the patients. So, after watching a Shared Decision Making video that described what we know about back surgery vs. non-surgery, one group of patients in this trial agreed to be randomly selected for surgical or non-surgical treatment.
Another group, called the "observational cohort," chose not to participate in the randomized trial and to make their own decision about what approach to pursue. However, they did agree to take part in the rest of the trial, that is to be surveyed initially and participate in follow-up evaluations during the next 12 to 48 months.
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