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‘Back Pain Seminars’ – UK meetings for healthcare professionals treating chronic back pain

AbbVie with support from dna medical communications

Summary of work

‘Back Pain Seminars’ are transforming the way primary healthcare professionals (HCPs) assess patients with chronic back pain – addressing one of the UK's costliest health problems.1 Patients with inflammatory back pain (IBP) may wait years for referral to rheumatology,2 often due to difficulties in differentiating IBP from mechanical back pain (MBP) in primary care.3,4 Patients may therefore miss out on the accurate diagnosis required for effective care. The CPD-accredited meetings use video-based case study workshops (plus surveys, print and CD-ROM resources) to improve identification of IBP and increase appropriate referrals to secondary care.

The programme has achieved clinically meaningful improvements in patient outcomes by reaching its goals of:

  1. Educating over 1,050 HCPs by the end of 2013
  2. Stimulating over 93% per cent of Seminar delegates to indicate a willingness to change their clinical practice after the seminar
  3. Doubling the number of patients referred to rheumatology clinics where meetings are held, also necessitating an increased number of specialist clinics
  4. Securing external recognition from the British Society of Rheumatology.

The impact is clear: “Back Pain Seminars have resulted in real and rapid impact on the quantity and quality of referrals to specialist clinics in our area.” Karl Gaffney, Rheumatologist, NASS


1. Breen AC et al. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2011;12:28; 
2. Sieper J et al. Ann Rheum Dis 2009;68:784–788; 
3. National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (2010). Looking ahead: best practice for the care of people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) http://www.nass.co.uk/campaigning/looking-ahead
4. Jois RN et al. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008 Sep;47(9):1364–6. 

Judges’ comments

This entry is clear, structured and had good outcomes. It moved beyond a mind-set change and resulted in increased monthly referrals to rheumatology clinics.