Success for new back pain screening method

Last Updated on June 22, 2022 by Baine Kolar

Provide’s Physiotherapy Service has been trialling a new screening method with mid-Essex patients who have been referred into the service with back pain and sciatica.

The ‘STarT Back’ approach, produced by Keele University, uses a simple tool which matches patients to the most suitable treatment packages for them. New patients accessing the service complete a short questionnaire before their first appointment and the initial screening informs the physiotherapist what level of care is required. The results help determine which one of three risk-defined groups the patient is allocated to: low, medium, or high and one of three treatment pathways, developed with clinical experts, is then matched to these risk groups.

Luke Tandy, an Extended Scope Physiotherapist for Provide’s Physiotherapy Service, said:

“Offering care for people with back pain that matches their risk of developing persistent pain and disability gives better long-term outcomes and ensures that people receive the correct advice and support as early as possible.”
“The tool is a simple nine-item questionnaire that only takes a minute to complete which quickly and accurately determines the level of care the person needs to get back to their normal life.”

A review of the service in 2016 identified that patients with back problems were receiving a number of different treatment approaches over a varied number of appointments and future care needed to become more consistent, stratified and effective over the whole service. Widely used both in the UK and internationally, the ‘STarT Back’ approach to care has been shown to decrease disability from back pain, reduce time off work and make better use of health resources. The new method of treatment has already shown that people with low back pain need fewer appointments before they are discharged from the service and 90 per cent of patients are significantly better following their matched treatment. This month, mid-Essex patients with more persistent back pain can attend a six-week ‘back to activity programme at Braintree Community Hospital, aimed at helping people find better ways to manage persistent pain.

More information about this comprehensive evidence-based programme will be available on the Provide website very soon.

Provide is a Community Interest Company (social enterprise) and delivers services across Essex and in Cambridgeshire (including Peterborough), Suffolk and Norfolk as well as two London boroughs: Waltham Forest and Redbridge.

The Physiotherapy Service is based at locations in Chelmsford, Braintree, Maldon and Halstead.

For more information on STarT Back, visit the Keele website.


New measurement tool, better treatment outcomes

Last Updated on August 8, 2021 by I C

A new outcome measure to help evaluate the effectiveness of treatment to patients with musculoskeletal conditions has been identified by Provide’s Physiotherapy Service.

For the last 12 months the service has used the Musculoskeletal Health Questionnaire (MSK-HQ) to accurately measure whether treatments to patients have been successful.

The measurement tool consists of 14 items capturing outcomes such as pain, function, sleep, physical activity and psychological impact. It is used by the service at the beginning and end of care.

A recent review of patient outcome data showed that since last April more than 90 per cent of patients improved with physiotherapy management from the service, significantly higher than the threshold for demonstrating a clinically meaningful difference.

This comes after it was identified that the service’s previous outcome measure was not suitable to assess whether treatment had improved a patient’s pain, function or general wellbeing.

Scott Baker, Clinical Manager at the Physiotherapy Service, said: “The use of a generic musculoskeletal outcome measure for all patients with a musculoskeletal condition was long overdue and the use of the MSK-HQ within the service will provide invaluable data on how effective our treatment is and where we can improve.

“The MSK-HQ should become the cornerstone for measuring treatment effectiveness when managing people with Musculoskeletal conditions, not just within our physiotherapy service but all healthcare services delivering care for this patient group.”

Scott added: “The high level of improvement for patients receiving treatment in the service shows an outstanding effort by the team, especially given the current constraints and we are delighted that people are benefiting from the care we are giving.”

The MSK-HQ was published by Keele University with the support of Arthritis Research UK in 2014 and validated in the British Medical Journal for clinical use in 2016.

Ongoing work using the MSK-HQ to evaluate the effectiveness of treating patients with different Musculoskeletal problems will continue over the coming months as part of further service development projects.

Read more about the Musculoskeletal outcome on the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) website.

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