We are looking for independent and motivated bachelor or master student human movement sciences, health sciences or physical therapy sciences to evaluate within the Back-UP project a mobile self-management application for patient suffering from neck or low back pain.

Background information
Neck and Low Back Pain is a leading cause for years lived with disability in Europe and worldwide. About 70% of all adults experience this problem at some point in their lives, and both conditions are among the top ten in terms of overall disease burden expressed as disability adjusted life years. Moreover, low back pain is the leading cause work absence in Europe, and it causes an enormous burden on individuals, industry and governments. Most patients (≥85%) seen in primary care with neck or low back problems have non-specific pain i.e., pain that cannot reliably be attributed to a specific disease or pathology. Many patients are therefore left with relatively few treatment options to effectively manage it. Current European treatment guidelines recommend a package of care, which includes many different interventions shown to be small to moderately effective, such as self-management education, pain relief, encouragement of physical activity and return to work, a supervised exercise programme and manual therapies. A key aspect to consider is that patients with neck and low back pain are a heterogeneous group where the prognosis and precise mix of factors involved, varies substantially between individuals. This means that a one-size fits-all approach is not recommended, but methods to tailor treatment to the needs of the individual are still relatively under-developed. The Back-UP Project works for a better, personalized, faster and evidence-based management of neck and low back pain, through the development of a technological platform with prognostic models, addressed to patients, clinicians and occupational managers, based on the digital representation of multidimensional clinical information, and in-silico assessments of possible interventions.

Within the Back-UP project a mobile self-management application (selfBACK) is translated to Dutch and available as addition to regular physical therapy. The main objective of this assignment is to evaluate the use of selfBACK by patients and physical therapists and to determine the barriers and facilitators for use.

Study design
An observational cohort study with a pre-test/post-test design will be carried out. The pre-test measurements will be performed before the use of selfBACK, and the post-test measurements will be performed after using selfBACK for six weeks. Furthermore, next to completing questionnaires participants need to be interviewed after using selfBACK for six weeks.

Main activities student
The student will support the execution of the evaluation, and will analyse the data needed for his/her own thesis.

Student profile
For this assignment with a duration of approximately 3-6 months, we are looking for a student human movement sciences, health sciences, physical therapy sciences or similar, who has affinity with clinical practice. Speaking Dutch is required and contact within the clinical field is desired. The planned start of the selfBACK evaluation is September/October 2020.


If you are interested in the assignment or have any questions please contact Marian Hurmuz (m.hurmuz@rrd.nl).