OBJECTIVE: To ascertain knowledge gaps in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic low back pain (LBP) in the primary care setting to prepare a scoping survey for identifying knowledge gaps in LBP management among Alberta’s primary care practitioners, and to identify potential barriers to implementing a multidisciplinary LBP guideline.METHODS: English language studies, published from 1996 to 2008, comparing the clinical practice patterns of primary care practitioners with guideline recommendations were identified by systematically searching literature databases, the websites of various health technology assessment agencies and libraries, and the Internet. Data were synthesized qualitatively.RESULTS: The literature search identified 14 relevant studies. Knowledge gaps were reported among various primary care practitioner groups in the assessment of red flags, use of diagnostic imaging, provision of advice regarding sick leave and continuing activity, administration of some medications (muscle relaxants, oral steroids and opioids) and recommendation of particular treatments (acupuncture, physiotherapy, spinal manipulation, traction, ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and spinal mobilization).CONCLUSIONS: A know-do gap clearly exists among primary care practitioners with respect to the diagnosis and treatment of LBP. The information on know-do gaps will be used to construct a survey tool for unearthing the local knowledge gaps extant among Alberta’s primary care practitioners, and to develop a dissemination strategy for a locally produced multidisciplinary LBP guideline, with the aim of ensuring that the know-do gaps inherent within each primary practice discipline are specifically targeted.