Talkback: Improving educational resources for people with low back pain in Sheffield

Back pain is the largest cause of disability in the world (Hoy et al., 2014) Individual episodes are usually short lived but for some people the pain becomes chronic, with significant personal and societal costs (Clark & Horton, 2018). The development of chronic lower back pain (CLBP) is complex with no apparent correlation between identified pathological causes of acute back pain and the development of a persistent problem (Tonosu et al., 2017).

Instead, the process is believed to be caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological and social factors (Foster et al., 2018). The set of characteristics and circumstances that lead to CLBP are diverse but there are common recurring themes and strong beliefs associated with the traditional biomedical view of lower back pain have been shown to be a barrier to recovery (Bunzli, Smith, Schütze, & O'Sullivan, 2015). Changes to beliefs, emotion and behaviour can only come from within the individual but an educational programme may provide the resources and circumstances where this is more likely to happen.

A well designed and executed education programme that reframes the problem as complex and multifactorial may help people with back pain except and engage with positive self-management strategies (George et al., 2009). However, health belief and behaviour change is complex and research developed interventions can fail if they do not take into account context and person specific factors. (Greenhalgh et al., 2016)

In this project, a new approach to back pain education was designed and developed that met the specific needs of patients, staff and service managers. A creative co-production approach was used to enable diverse stakeholders to work co-operatively together towards imaginative solutions to this complex problem. Academic knowledge was blended with stakeholder knowledge, and through a process of idea generation, prototype construction, feedback and refinement the Talkback concept was developed. Talkback is a multi-platform, thematically linked education programme with accompanying resources. It will be available throughout the healthcare journey creating a common language of understanding between patients and their clinicians.

Please find the full report here.