An innovative approach to back pain stipulates the best way
to tackle back problems
Scotland has taken an innovative approach to the issue of
back pain management, as Professor Gordon Waddell explained in his presentation
to the conference. Working Back Scotland is a joint NHS Executive and Health
Education Board of Scotland project which was launched in October. It involves
a wide range of partners in an attempt to improve the management of back pain
"We had a lot of trouble getting the message across to
some professional groups," said Waddell, adding that Working Back Scotland
was one of the first attempts in the world to get the message across to the
The basic aim of the campaign was to provide consistent
advice to all health care professionals, employers and the 60-80 per cent of
people who get back pain. Advice included how to deal with the condition and
prevent unnecessary disability.
"The Royal College of General Practitioners put a lot
of work into developing guidelines, but no effort has been put into
implementing them," he said.
The project was based on the RCOGP and Faculty of
Occupational Medicine guidelines, which, Waddell said, are the best and most up
to date in the world. These guidelines were condensed and key messages picked
out. These were:
– Stay active
– Use simple pain relief
– Get help from your GP or OH department.
Secondary messages were then chosen to illustrate how to
deal with back pain in a work context. These were:
– The shorter time you are off work the less risk you have
of developing chronic pain
– You do not have to be completely pain-free to return to
– Employers, employees and health professionals can support
you at work.
Resource packs with an easy-to-read format were produced
targeted at health professionals, employers and employees and radio adverts
were played on 15 stations which reached 60 per cent of Scottish adults.
A survey questionnaire carried out each month since the
start of the campaign showed that the proportion of respondents who believed
that rest was the best treatment for back pain dropped from 54 per cent to 36
per cent after the adverts were aired.