OBJECTIVE: We explored patients' experiences of using Internet-based self-management support for low back pain (LBP) in primary care, with and without physiotherapist telephone guidance.
DESIGN: Exploratory descriptive qualitative study using thematic analysis, nested within a randomized feasibility trial.
METHODS: Patients with LBP who participated in a feasibility trial of the SupportBack Internet intervention (ISRCTN: 31034004) were invited to take part in semistructured telephone interviews after the three-month intervention period (a convenience sample from within the trial population). Fifteen participants took part (age range = 36-87 years, 66.7% female, characteristics representative of the trial population). Data were analyzed thematically.
RESULTS: Analysis resulted in the development of six themes (subthemes in parentheses): Perceptions of SupportBack's design (Clarity and ease of use, Variety and range of information provided, Need for specificity and flexibility), Engaging with the SupportBack intervention, Promoting positive thought processes (Reassurance, Awareness of self-management), Managing behavior with SupportBack (Motivation and goal setting, Using activity as a pain management strategy, Preferences for walking or gentle back exercises), Feeling supported by telephone physiotherapists (Provision of reassurances and clarity, Physiotherapists are motivating), Severity and comorbidity as barriers (Preexisting condition or severity acting as a barrier, Less useful for mild low back pain).
CONCLUSIONS: The Internet intervention SupportBack appeared to feasibly support self-management of LBP. Reassurance and ongoing support to implement behavioral changes were central to reported benefits. The addition of physiotherapist telephone support further enhanced the patient experience and the potential utility of the intervention.
Bibliographical noteThe acceptance date for this record is provisional and based upon the month of publication for the article.
- Physical and Mental Health
- Digital Health