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How can we improve the ease of reaching recommended care for people struggling with pain in rural or remote areas?

The internet and technology have dramatically revolutionised the way we live our lives and there is no sign of this stopping. For example, physiotherapy video consultations and exercise apps can be used to deliver or enhance health services. Today there is growing evidence that e-health can help combat the tyranny of distance for people struggling with pain who could benefit from visiting a health professional.

What is the purpose of the study?

We want to learn how to best use e-health to help patients struggling with low back pain, the number one cause of disability in the world, and/or knee pain associated with osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. We want to find out if e-health supported care can improve physical function and pain for people with low back pain or knee osteoarthritis who live outside a big city.

Who can participate?

Have you had back or knee pain for more than 3 months?
Planning to see a health professional for your back or knee pain?
Live in a rural or remote area?
Have regular internet access on a computer device?

What is involved?

1.Online screening

To begin with, you will need to fill in an online screening questionnaire and speak to someone from our research team over the telephone to find out if you are eligible. This should take about 10 minutes in total.

2.  Baseline online questionnaires

If you are eligible to participate in the study you will then be invited to answer another online questionnaire, read a participant information sheet and sign a consent form. This should take about 20 minutes.

3. Intervention

After completing the baseline questionnaire you will be placed into one of two groups (1) the eHealth supported group or (2) the usual care group during 3 months.

This means that you have a 50% chance of being placed in either group.

The eHealth group:

It includes an individually tailored home exercise program and activity plan using a maximum of 6 remote physiotherapy video consultations with a certified health coach and a web application.

The Usual care group:

You will continue to access local care where you would normally go and/or be provided with assistance over the telephone and a referral form to help you access a healthcare professional (e.g. public hospitals) . The healthcare professional you decide to visit will provide you with the care for your back pain and/or knee pain.

4. Logbook

We will ask you to fill in a paper logbook over the course of 3 months. We will ask you to take a photo of this logbook and to send back to the research team at the end of the 3 months. The logbook will ask about the treatment you receive, your symptoms and travel use.

5. Follow-up online questionnaire

We will also ask you to complete an online questionnaire at 3 months after you are allocated to a group. This should take about 20-30 minutes.

6. Follow-up Telephone Interview

You will also be contacted by phone to provide feedback on your experience within 6 months of finishing the study. This phone interview will be recorded and take approximately 10 minutes.

Will my details be kept confidential?

No findings that could identify you will be published. All data and results will be handled in a strictly confidential manner. This project is subject to the requirements of the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

What to do next?

If you would like to participate in this study, please click START THE AWARENESS at the bottom of the page to register your interest and answer the screening questions. We will contact you as soon as we can.

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