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STarTBack – stratified medicine in action


Our researchers at the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre at Keele University have already developed a successful stratified approach to treat back pain. Called STarTBack, it involves both the use of a tool in the form of a simple questionnaire that GPs and physiotherapists can use to understand the nature of an individual’s back pain, and matched treatments for each group of patients. This helps to ensure patients get the right treatment.

And the good news is, we know STarTBack works.

With the usual care approach to back pain, only 40% of patients at risk of persistent back problems were referred on for additional treatments. With STarTBack, this number rose to 72%. As a result, time off work with back pain was halved and levels of pain and distress were significantly reduced, leading to higher levels of patient satisfaction.

For GP Dr Ollie Hart, STarTBack represents a big shift in the way doctors approach back pain.

“STarTBack helps us understand how pain is impacting on someone’s psychological health – whether it’s making them feel unhappy and distressed,” he says. “By understanding this, we can help them cope with the emotional impact of their condition. It also helps us get a clearer picture of what impact the pain is having on their social interactions – for example is it stopping them from working. Once we know the consequences of their condition on their day-to-day lives, we can find the best course of treatment for them.”

Click on the links below to find out more about STarTBack:

Back to Stratified medicine appeal

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