Design and setting: A three-armed randomised controlled feasibility trial conducted in 12 general practices in England.
Participants: Primary care patients aged over 18, with current LBP, access to the internet, and without indicators of serious spinal pathology or systemic illness.
Interventions: The ‘SupportBack’ internet intervention delivers a 6-week, tailored programme, focused on graded goal setting, self-monitoring, and provision of tailored feedback to encourage physical activity. Additional physiotherapist telephone support consisted of three brief telephone calls over a 4-week period, to address any concerns and provide reassurance.
Outcomes: The primary outcomes were the feasibility of the trial design including recruitment, adherence and retention at follow-up. Secondary descriptive and exploratory analyses were conducted on clinical outcomes including LBP-related disability at 3 months follow-up.
Results: Primary outcomes: 87 patients with LBP were recruited (target 60-90) over 6 months, and there were 3 withdrawals. Adherence to the intervention was higher in the physiotherapist-supported arm, compared to the stand-alone internet intervention. Trial physiotherapists adhered to the support protocol. Overall follow-up rate on key clinical outcomes at three months follow-up was 84%.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated the feasibility of a future definitive randomised controlled trial to determine the clinical and cost effectiveness of the SupportBack intervention in primary care patients with LBP.
Trial registration: ISRCTN 31034004
Key words: Low back pain; internet intervention; self-management; primary care