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The University of Southampton
Active Living

Key research projects

SUPPORT BACK study: Internet Intervention Supporting Management of Low Back Pain in Primary Care: a feasibility study

Funded by the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit. Low back pain is one of the most common and costly problems seen by general practitioners. This study involves developing and testing an interactive internet intervention specifically designed for patients experiencing low back pain consulting in primary care. 

An internet intervention may provide a novel and efficient means for delivering NICE-recommended education and advice for the self-management of low back pain. Using the internet will allow patients immediate access to tailored information in their own homes.

Our multidisciplinary team of general practitioners, rheumatologists, physiotherapists and psychologists from Southampton and Keele are working closely with patients to develop and amend existing high quality educational materials, to then test with 90 primary care patients with low back pain. Thirty patients will receive the internet intervention with telephone physiotherapist support, 30 patients will receive the internet intervention without support and 30 patients will receive usual care from their GP. The key outputs from this project will be an internet intervention for low back pain that is acceptable to patients, an understanding of patients support needs and feasibility data to provide the basis for a future large-scale effectiveness trial.

Improving quality, service delivery and patient experience in a musculoskeletal service.

This quality improvement initiative was designed to enhance service delivery and patient experience in a musculoskeletal out-patient setting.  A cross-sectional survey, with 6 annual stages, has involved 1095 patients to date. 

This initiative has shown that strategies to motivate individual clinicians to change their behaviour were unsuccessful, whereas system-changes resulted in 32/37 improvements (8 statistically significant) in patient experience. In addition, the revised systems resulted in a 6% decrease in wasted appointments. 

This work has highlighted the importance of evaluating services through the eyes of their users and demonstrates how patient feedback can drive change and positively impact upon health-care experiences.

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