Volunteers sought for chronic back pain self-management research

Health researchers are looking for volunteers from across the north-east to participate in a study to help older people with chronic low back pain manage their condition.

Dr Kay CooperThe team, led by Dr Kay Cooper from Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) Institute for Health & Wellbeing Research (IHWR), is seeking members of the public to trial a bespoke peer-support intervention.

Peer-support, where assistance and encouragement is provided by an equal, has been used successfully to help people self-manage a range of other chronic health conditions.

The research team includes Professor Susan Klein from RGU, Professor Pat Schofield from the University of Greenwich and Professor Blair Smith from the University of Dundee.

They are currently looking for people of any age who have experience of successfully managing their own chronic low back pain who would like to become peer volunteers.

Dr Cooper hopes the new intervention based on support and encouragement will prove to be a useful strategy for some older people who want some help to be able to successfully self-manage their chronic low back pain.

She said: “Low back pain affects around a third of adults over 65 with many reporting chronic symptoms lasting 12 weeks or longer.

“Treatment such as physiotherapy is widely available and can be very effective, but due to the nature of low back pain many people need to develop a long-term self-management strategy.

“A self-management strategy can include exercises, being physically active, relaxation techniques and other strategies for coping with setbacks.”

The research, which is funded by The Dunhill Medical Trust, will investigate whether the intervention can be useful for older people with chronic low back pain.

Work on the project started in October 2013 and involved patients, health professionals, members of the public and other experts on self-management. They were interviewed about what it’s like to have chronic low back pain and what people can do to help themselves.

Volunteers for the study would attend a two-day training programme at RGU, or complete the training online if preferred, then be paired up with one or two older people who have chronic low back pain and who have just finished a course of physiotherapy.

The pair would then arrange to contact each other six times over a three-month period, and the study team would collect a range of measures to determine whether the intervention is appropriate and feasible to deliver, as well as how effective it is in helping people to self-manage their chronic low back pain.

If you would like to find out more about this research study, or think you might be interested in volunteering, please contact Dr Kay Cooper on (01224) 262677 or e-mail

Posted by
Ross AndersonCommunications Officer | Health and Sport