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Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Pain on a platform: STarT Back in Seattle

Written by Nicola Evans | Implementation Manager | | @PCSciences

Anyone familiar with the Research Institute will almost certainly have heard of the 'STarT Back' tool mentioned on more than one occassion. But for those unlucky few, the tool was established back in 2008 with the overarching aim to improve the care that patients suffering with back pain receive. Using a stratified (systematic) approach, the tool allows healthcare providers to suitably match the right treatment to patients according to their risk of experiencing persistent disabling low back pain. 

The STarT Back tool has certainly begun to put back pain on the healthcare agenda, and the tool is being implemented more and more by clinicians, commissioners and researchers all over the world. There is still a long way to go though, and through building collaborations we're able to address the currently challenges surrounding back pain. 

Myself and senior Knowledge Mobilisation Fellow, Kay Stevenson, recently spent two day ins Seattle to discuss the implementation of STarT Back with key collaborators, Kaiser Permanente. 

Although there is a longstanding history of collaboration between the Research institute and Kaiser Permanente (previously known as ‘Group Health’), most recently our focus has shifted to the world of implementation. Recent discussions shed light on a mutual concern with lack of materials available to explain chronic pain for patients, and a lack of training for primary care practitioners to give or support these explanations. 

The team at the Research Institute have tried to tackle this through the development of the STarT Back website, as well delivering training. Our collaboration with the Kaiser Permanente has led to a considerable impact of the STarT Back tool within the US and other countries, and recent discussions evolved into the development of a web-based ‘Pain Platform’ which will have a much wider reach and spread the word about the tool far and wide. 

The two-day visit enabled both teams to gain a better understanding of the relative perspectives and systems within chronic pain, and explore ways in which the ‘pain platform’ project will be taken forward.  

It was two wonderful days of sharing and learning, with both teams presenting their current implementation work and models for best practice in the area of chronic pain. Day two’s focus was future collaboration projects to strengthen implementation work that’s already been delivered. Our very own Professor Peter Croft introduced a seminar delivered by myself and Kay which highlighted the research-into-practice story - using STarT Back as an example of highlighting work within the NHS, finishing with a clear and strong story of the Impact Accelerator Unit and patient engagement. 

The visit was a clear success, enjoyed by both teams who built key strengths to help identify a plan to move forward. Clear opportunity for long-term collaboration on educational and training initiatives for clinicians involved in consultations and implementation research were also identified.

About the author: 
Nicki's role within the Impact Accelerator Unit is to support the operational delivery of key innovation projects on behalf of the Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences (iPCHS). She takes the lead for the project management in the Unit, working closely with clinicians in the team as well as key groups within the NHS to ensure effective adoption and spread of our work. 

She graduated from University of Liverpool in 2001 with a degree in Nutrition and has worked in the NHS for over 10 years in the public health arena prior to joining the Impact Accelerator Unit in September 2015.  

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