Back to living well: community-based management of low back pain: a feasibility study

Luciana G. Macedo*, Julie Richardson, Michele C. Battie, Mark Hancock, Matthew Kwan, Genevieve Hladysh, Linda Zhuo

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Background: Low back pain (LBP) is a long-term health condition with an unpredictable pattern of symptomatic episodes, remission, and recurrence. Recently published systematic reviews suggest that exercise is the most effective intervention for preventing recurrences of LBP in persons that have recovered. Similar programs may also be effective in preventing flare-ups in persistent LBP. The aim of this study was to test the feasibility of the Back to Living Well program (Physical activity + Education + Self-management) developed to prevent recurrence or flare-ups of LBP. The study evaluated feasibility in terms of recruitment rate, adherence, satisfaction with the exercise and education sessions, and the data collection procedures. We also aimed to evaluate barriers and facilitators to the engagement in the program. Methods: Seventeen participants with non-specific LBP recently discharged from care from physiotherapy, chiropractors or physician care (< 3 months) were referred to the study by health care providers or community advertisements between December 2018 and February 2019. Participants underwent a 12-week (1 session/week) individualized, group-based exercise in the community and 4 sessions (30 min each) of education. All participants completed an action plan weekly for 12 weeks and wore an activity monitor for 6 months. All participants responded to weekly pain measures and completed study questionnaires at baseline, 3- and 6-months. Feasibility outcomes included recruitment, attrition rates and satisfaction. At the end of the intervention, participants completed an end-of-program survey. Results: Twenty-nine participants were screened for eligibility; 20 were deemed eligible, while 17 were included over a 2-month period meeting our feasibility targets. In total, 16 completed follow-up study questionnaires at 3 months, and 15 completed the 6-month follow-up. Fourteen participants responded to weekly messages, while 3 participants reported not having a mobile device or Internet access. In total, 15 participants responded to our end-of-program survey. Average age was 54.9 (11.7); 9 were female (53%), and the mean duration of LBP was 62.9 (69.7) months. All satisfaction responses in relation to the exercise program, education program and data collection procedures reached our threshold of 70% out of 100%. Reported barriers to engagement in the program included fear of injury, lack of motivation and travel. Facilitators included proximity to home, low cost, flexible schedule and friendly location. Conclusion: The results show the program is feasible in terms of recruitment, low attrition, and patient satisfaction. Participants highlighted the excellent, relevant education program and the positive, personalized exercise. Future studies should evaluate the effectiveness of this intervention within a fully powered randomized controlled trial. Trial registration: NCT03328689

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number134
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Community intervention
    • Education
    • Feasibility
    • Flare up
    • Low back pain
    • Physical activity
    • Recurrence
    • Self-management


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