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The University of Southampton

Research project: Mechanisms in Orthodox and Complementary Alternative Medicine Management of Back Pain (MOCAM study)

Currently Active: 

Researchers at the University of Southampton are investigating how the therapeutic relationship, practitioners’ beliefs, clinic environments and patients’ beliefs can affect the outcomes of lower back pain therapy – and they’re looking for osteopaths, acupuncturists, physiotherapists, and patients to help.


MOCAM is a large questionnaire study, funded by Arthritis UK, investigating how patients’ and practitioners’ beliefs, the therapeutic relationship and clinic environment might affect the outcomes of lower back pain treatments. This study represents an opportunity to take part in ground-breaking research which will contribute to best practice guidelines and represents a real opportunity to learn more about how we can make our treatments for back pain as potent as possible.

For Practitioners

Suggested things to say to patients for participating practitioners:

- This study is conducted by leading researchers from the University of Southampton and is funded by the charity Arthritis Research UK (by telling patients this, you help make the research sound credible).
- Treatments for low back pain can be improved and taking part in research will help make that happen
- It won’t cost anything to take part and they will receive a £5 gift voucher at the end of the study
- By taking part you would make a valuable contribution to improving treatments in the future
- You might find taking part interesting and you will be part of a large nationwide study

Other recruitment tips for practitioners:

- Give packs to as many patients as possible with low back pain over the age of 18
- Have a follow-up chat about how they're getting on with the study on next visit
- Very briefly explain what the study is about

Practitioner inclusion criteria:

- To be registered with the relevant body (osteopaths: GOsC; acupuncturists: BAcC; physiotherapists: CSP) – please note, acupuncturists can be registered and/or just trained with the BAcC to be eligible.
- Treat at least 1 patient with low back pain per week.
- Have at least 3 years experience with musculoskeletal work.

Practitioners will be asked to:

1) Invite patients with lower back pain to take part by giving them an information pack.
2) Answer 1 question about each eligible patient
3) Answer a short questionnaire 3 months after the patient’s first treatment session (about the patient’s adherence to treatment and therapeutic modalities used).

Practitioners can perform their treatments as they normally would and are asked to recruit 15 patients over 12 months. Practitioners will be paid £15 for each recruited patient in the private sector. There are separate financial arrangements for practitioners working in the NHS.

Patients who agree to take part will be sent questionnaires at 2 weeks and 3 months after their first treatment session by the research team.

For Patients

Taking part offers you the chance to reflect on your thoughts about back pain, treatment, and your health in general. All you would need to do is fill in three anonymous questionnaires at three time points, which will be sent to you by the research team. As a small token of our thanks we will send you a £5 gift voucher with the third questionnaire. 


If you are interested in taking part or would like to know more about the study, please contact the research team on

The research project is funded by a grant (number 20552) from Arthritis UK:


Contact Details

Email: Phone: 02380 591942

Related research groups

Centre for Clinical and Community Applications of Health Psychology (CCCAHP)
University of Southampton
University of Southampton
Arthritis Research UK
Arthritis Research UK
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