selfBACK: A decision support system to improve self-management of non-specific low back pain

‌SELFBACK is an evidenced-based decision support system for the self-management of non-specific low back pain. At University of Glasgow we have been involved in the development of SELFBACK, and a pilot study and randomised controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of selfBACK. Participants in the study will be given the SELFBACK smartphone app and a smart wristband. The app provides them with individualised self-management plans by matching their health information to targeted educational messages, physical activity and exercise recommendations.

‌The study is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 scheme and involves a consortium of partners in Norway, Denmark, Scotland and the Netherlands.

Logo for the selfback studyThe study commenced in January 2016 and will run until December 2020. The randomised controlled trial will take place in 2019/2020.

‌You can find out more about the study on:

Latest news

March 2018

Our SELFBACK colleague, Professor Jan Hartvigsen from the University of Southern Denmark, recently contributed to a series of papers in The Lancet on low back pain (you may need to register - for free - to read them).

January 2018

All of the SELFBACK partners were represented at our latest consortium meeting held at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. We discussed our progress and plans for our upcoming feasibility and pilot studies and randomised controlled trial. We also tried out some of the exercises recommended in the selfBACK app:

November 2017

Photo of Barbara Nicholl presenting on selfback studyDr Barbara Nicholl, University of Glasgow, presented findings from two systematic reviews about the effectiveness of and engagement with current digital health interventions for low back pain, which were conducted as part of the development work for selfBACK, at the North American Primary care Research Group Annual Conference.

September 2017

Photo of Barbara Nicholl and Charlotte Nørregaard Dr Barbara Nicholl, University of Glasgow, and Charlotte Nørregaard Rasmussen, National Research Centre for the Working Environment Denmark, presented some of the SELFBACK app content development work at the International Back and Neck Pain Research Forum, held in Oslo.

Members from all partners in the consortium attended a consortium meeting in Amsterdam at the end of September 2017. This was held in the offices of our Partner, Health Leads, a fabulous working environment, and quite different to the academic environment that those of us based at universities are used to! A major focus of this meeting was developing and agreeing on app content.

The team

University of Glasgow selfBACK team

  • Dr Barbara Nicholl (Principal Investigator), Lecturer in General Practice & Primary Care Research, @BarbNicholl, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Frances Mair Norie Miller Professor of General Practice Head of General Practice and Primary Care, @FrancesMair, University of Glasgow
  • Ms Karen Wood (Research Assistant), University of Glasgow

selfBACK project leads

  • Professor Paul Jarle Mork (Coordinator) Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Assoc. Professor Kerstin Bach (Coordinator) Norwegian University of Science and Technology

selfBACK consortium

  • Professor Agnar Aamodt, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Professor Karen Søgaard, University of Southern Denmark
  • Assoc. Professor Mette Jensen, Stochkendahl, University of Southern Denmark
  • Professor Nirmalie Wiratunga, Robert Gordon University
  • Kay Cooper, Robert Gordon University
  • Charlotte Nørregaard Rasmussen, National Research Centre for the Working Environment
  • Søren Kleberg, Trade eXpansion
  • Marco Pieterse & Peter Vermeiren, Health Leads

Publications and presentations

Find out about our previous publications at

Contact us

You can contact the Glasgow research team by email: