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Improving outcomes in discharge care for older people with low back pain

This study aims to see whether exercising after discharge for treatment for low back pain improves outcomes

Low back pain significantly affects older Australians leading to decreases in functional capacity, quality of life, and social activities. It is associated with decreased levels of physical activity and with a greater number of comorbidities. A survey performed in Australia in 2018 found that around 75% of older Australians do not meet the physical activity guidelines (i.e. do not perform ≥ 150 min of moderate physical activity per week).

Even though evidence calls attention to physical activity as medicine for older adults and for recovery from low back pain, the vast majority of the older population is still inactive. 

This study aims to see whether exercising after discharge for treatment for low back pain improves outcomes for people with low back pain and decreases health care utilisation. It also aims to assess whether exercising with a ‘buddy’ is better than exercising alone.

Participants will be allocated to one of the three groups:
1. Control Group: participants will continue with usual care and follow the advice given by their treating health care professional 
2. Health Coaching Group: participants will receive up to 13 coaching sessions through the NSW Get Healthy Initiative to encourage them to increase their physical activity
3. Buddy Group: participants will receive the same 13 coaching sessions and will be asked to exercise with a partner or buddy once a week

Participants will be asked to complete short surveys at the beginning of the study, 3 months and 6 months.


You may be eligible to participate in this study if you:

  • Are 50 years old or over
  • Have low back pain for at least 3 months
  • Have had low back pain in the intensity of at least 2/10 points in a scale from 0 to 10 (0 = no pain; 10 = worst pain possible)
  • Are currently engaging in less than 300 min of physical activity per week
  • Have adequate hearing and eyesight to exercise safely
  • Walk independently
  • Have an exercise buddy who would be willing to exercise together at least once per week for 30 minutes if required

How to participate

If you are interested in assisting with this important and exciting area of research, please complete our pre-screening survey.