Identifying the most powerful non-specific components of treatments for back pain

Disease - Back pain

Lead applicant - Dr Felicity Bishop

Organisation - University of Southampton

Type of grant - Special Strategic Award

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £124,988

Start date - 1 October 2014

Reference - 20552

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Previous studies have found factors such as a patient’s beliefs in the likely success of a treatment and the environment in which the treatment is delivered influence the success of treatment of painful conditions. This research will explore the influences of these factors on patients with back pain. The aim is to find out whether different aspects of the experience of treatment have an influence on whether that treatment is a success, whether this depends on the type of treatment delivered and why these things are important.

Why is this research important?

The importance of the setting in which treatments are delivered and the impact of pre-existing beliefs about treatment on its success are fairly new areas of research in back pain. Once the factors which are important are known, future research can be targeted at these factors to understand in more detail how the success of a treatment can be maximised.

The research will be conducted using over 1500 adult back pain patients receiving care from an acupuncturist, osteopath, or physiotherapist. The researchers will not influence the treatment patients receive so the results reflect what happens in “real-world” settings. Patients and the healthcare professionals who treat them will complete surveys recording the treatment experiences at different points during treatment, and some consultations will be audio-recorded for analysis.

How will the findings benefit patients?

It may be that little things make a big difference in the success or failure of treatment in back pain. This research will help to identify these factors, and highlight areas for further research. Ultimately this will allow patients to receive therapies in a way which means they have the greatest chance of success.