The current investigation studied the effectiveness of a secondary prevention program for nurses with back pain who were deemed at risk for developing a chronic problem. A 2 × 3 repeated measures design was employed with 2 groups and 3 assessment periods. The treatment group received an intervention designed to reduce current problems, but above all to prevent reinjury and minor pains from becoming chronic medical problems, and it included a physical and behavioral therapy package. The control group was placed on a waiting-list. Results indicated that the treatment group had significantly greater improvements than the control group for pain intensity, anxiety, sleep quality and fatigue ratings, observed pain behavior, activities, mood, and helplessness. These differences were generally maintained at the 6 month follow-up. In addition, the treatment group broke a trend for increasing amounts of pain-related absenteeism, while the control group did not. Taken as a whole, the results suggest that a secondary prevention program aimed at altering life style factors may represent an effective method for dealing with musculoskeletal pain problems. © 1989.