Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
Low back pain is one of the most common and costly problems seen by general practitioners (GP). The aim of this study is to develop and test an interactive internet intervention specifically designed for patients having low back pain consulting their GP. Financial pressures on the NHS restrict access to face-to-face physiotherapy. An internet intervention may provide a unique and efficient means for offering education and advice for the self-management of low back pain. Patient feedback is used to inform amendments to the structure and content (phase 1). The acceptability of the intervention and the feasibility of this study are then assessed (phase 2).
Who can participate?
Adult patients experiencing low back pain and who have access to the internet
What does the study involve?
Participants are randomly allocated to one of three groups. The first group receives the internet intervention with telephone physiotherapist support, the second group receives the internet intervention without support, and the third group receives usual care from their GP. All patients are followed up after 3 months. Factors including recruitment rates, the extent of patient interaction with the intervention and patient dropout are assessed. Interviews are conducted with GPs, patients completing the intervention, and physiotherapists giving the telephone support.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Using the internet allows patients immediate access to tailored information in their own homes. The multidisciplinary team of general practitioners and specialists works collaboratively with patients to develop and amend existing high quality educational materials, making them suitable for delivery in an interactive internet format. There are no risks associated with participation in the study.
Where is the study run from?
The study is run from various GP surgeries around Hampshire and Wiltshire ares of the UK.
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
January 2015 to December 2015
Who is funding the study?
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (UK)
Who is the main contact?
Dr Adam Geraghty
Dr Adam Geraghty
Internet intervention supporting management of low back pain in primary care: a feasibility study
This study will examine the feasibility of the trial design and acceptability of the internet intervention for management of low back pain in primary care.
NRES Committee South Central - Southampton A, 25/06/2013, ref: 13/SC/0202
Randomised; Interventional; Design type: Not specified
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use the contact details to request a patient information sheet
Topic: Primary Care Research Network for England; Subtopic: Not Assigned; Disease: All Diseases
Patients will consent to the study online prior to completing the baseline information and questionnaires. They will then be randomised to three groups automatically, using internet-based software:
1. Internet intervention with telephone physiotherapist support: SupportBack is an online intervention providing advice and support in getting active for people with low back pain. Provides tailored activity programme and self management advice
2. Internet intervention with no telephone physiotherapist support
3. Usual care from the GP
Follow up will take place at 3 months.
Primary outcome measure
Recruitment rate; Timepoint(s): Baseline & 3 months
Secondary outcome measures
1. Back pain care related resource use (i.e. no of GP visits) collected by simple questions; Timepoint(s): 3 months
2. Quality of life, measured with EuroQol EQ-5D; Timepoint(s): Baseline & 3 months
3. Objective measures of use of internet intervention; Timepoint(s): Baseline & 3 months
4. Patient experience & perceived usefulness of intervention, measured by qualitative interview/quantitative scale; Timepoint(s): Baseline & 3 months
5. Patient experience/perceived usefulness of phone support, measured by qualitative interview/quantitative scale; Timepoint(s): 3 months
6. Problematic Experiences of Therapy Scale (PETS); Timepoint(s): 3 months
7. Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ); Timepoint(s): Baseline & 3 months
8. Time off work via simple questions; Timepoint(s): Baseline & 3 months
9. Visual Analogue Scale for measuring pain as a process measure across the study; Timepoint(s): Baseline & 3 months
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. Access to the internet and an active email address
2. Current low back pain
3. Prior presentation in primary care with low back pain (for those invited directly from practice lists)
4. An ability to read/understand English without assistance
Lower Age Limit 18 years
Target number of participants
Planned Sample Size: 70; UK Sample Size: 70
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Patients under 18
2. Clinical indicators of potentially serious spinal disease (indicated through a 'red flag' screen. Red flags are rare in primary care, thus we expect the majority of patients with low back pain to be eligible for this trail)
3. Those patients without the internet will be ineligible for this trial and will be offered usual care
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
University of Southampton
National Institute for Health Research
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Planned publication in a peer-reviewed journal
IPD sharing plan
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are/will be available upon request from Dr Adam Geraghty (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Available on request
Basic results (scientific)
2018 results in: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29525768