Innovative back pain research project seeking volunteers

Researchers from RGU are reaching out to people who suffer from low back pain to take part in a new international study using an innovative self-management app.

Dr Kay CooperA cross-disciplinary team, from RGU’s Schools of Health Sciences and Computing Science & Digital Media, are recruiting volunteers from the north-east, aged 18 or over, to test an early version of the selfBACK support system, which focusses on increasing physical activity in people with low back pain.

Volunteers will be asked to use the app for a four-week period and provide feedback on their experiences to the study team, which will be used to help the app’s further development.

This work is being undertaken as part of an international effort by a consortium of back pain researches, led by Professor PJ Mork from the Norwegian University of Science & Technology and funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Dr Kay Cooper, a physiotherapy expert from RGU’s School of Health Sciences, said: “Low back pain affects up to 90% of people at some time in their lives and is the leading cause of disability throughout the world. Self-management is a key part of dealing with low back pain and involves exercise, being physically active and knowing how to cope with setbacks.

“It can be difficult to do this on your own, so the selfBACK system is designed to be interactive, with users being monitored and provided with feedback and motivational messages via a wristband.”

Speaking about the study, Dr Cooper added: “All of us at RGU are passionate about leading and taking part in innovative research that will lead to tangible benefits to society.

“We look forward to taking the feedback from our volunteers and using it, alongside our European colleagues, to go forward and design the selfBACK system to further address the needs of those living with low back pain.”

To be eligible for the study, participants must be over 18 years old, have suffered low back pain for more than 6 weeks, be able to walk independently and own an android smartphone. They should not be receiving any current treatments for their pain and should not have had surgery on their low back in the past.

The research would involve two visits to RGU’s Garthdee Campus, using the app for a period of four weeks and completing questionnaires at the beginning and end of the process. There will also be an invitation to take part in a further optional interview.

If you are interested in finding out more, or taking part, please contact Dr Kay Cooper on (01224) 262 677 or


Release by Jonathon Milne
Communications Officer
Press and Media Enquiries