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Empowering the individual: The case of BackTrace and low back pain in Denmark

Authors:

Charlotte Christiansen ,

Elective Surgery Center, Silkeborg Regional Hospital, Denmark, DK
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Camilla Blach Rossen,

Elective Surgery Center, Silkeborg Regional Hospital, Denmark, DK
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Mette Terp Høybye,

Elective Surgery Center, Silkeborg Regional Hospital, Denmark Interacting Minds Center, Aarhus University, DK
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Nanna Rolving,

Physio and Ergotherapy, Aarhus University Hospital, Central Denmark Region, DK
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Kristoffer Arildsen Jørgensen

Elective Surgery Center, Silkeborg Regional Hospital, Denmark, DK
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Abstract

Introduction: The field of low back pain (LBP) is a prime example of patient-experienced incoherence. Individuals often have year-long care pathways, moving in loops between hospital, municipal and private health care providers. They are also often in contact with municipal job centres that sometimes have goals that conflict with those of the health system (Rossen et al 2021).

To accommodate these challenges, an interdisciplinary team has developed the first version of the digital solution 'BackTrace', in collaboration with health professionals, representatives from municipal job centres, individuals with LBP and their relatives. The solution currently consists of a smartphone app that allows patients to share self-reported data about their condition and activity with the different professionals they are in contact with. Professionals can also access the reported data through a professional user interface.

Methods: A pilot test of the first version of BackTrace runs from October 2021 to February 2022. Here, 300 individuals with LBP test BackTrace. The present research project samples participants from the pilot test participants. To secure a spread in participants' gender, age, and health status, participants are sampled through different channels such as private health care providers, the hospital, and municipal rehabilitation units.

The project has three objectives: 1) to explore how BackTrace affects participants' experience of cross sectoral coherence and empowerment 2) to explore participants' perceptions of the patient-professional collaboration with the use of BackTrace and 3) to explore barriers for using BackTrace, as experienced by participants (e.g. technical, ethical, personal). This is investigated using a mixed methods design, combining ethnographic methods with quantitative survey data, into an integrated analysis.

Results: The preliminary results after BackTrace has been pilot-tested are presented, with a focus on the ethnographic part of the study. Findings from interviews and observations with 10 participants and a workshop with 20 additional research participants are presented.

The paper presents the experiences of using BackTrace from the point of view of the individual with LBP: their thoughts and experiences of using BackTrace in their everyday life, how it affects their sense of empowerment and engagement, and the quality of their collaboration with professionals in their trajectory. It is examined, if patients with BackTrace take more charge of their own treatment and recovery process; if they experience a stronger sense of agency and confidence in their trajectory; and what (new) kinds of patient/user roles are made possible (and which are limited) with the introduction of BackTrace.

Conclusions: The development of BackTrace is based on inputs from individuals with LBP, their relatives, and other relevant stakeholders. It will be discussed to what degree this user-involvement approach can be said to actually create solutions that accommodate the needs of the individual living with LBP. 

Implications: As BackTrace is developed bottom-up and through continuous collaborative activities, inputs from individuals with LBP will both inform future research questions and the further development of BackTrace. The insights from this project can also be useful for the development of digital solutions for other patient groups.

 

How to Cite: Christiansen C, Rossen CB, Høybye MT, Rolving N, Jørgensen KA. Empowering the individual: The case of BackTrace and low back pain in Denmark. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2022;22(S3):233. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/ijic.ICIC22114
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Published on 04 Nov 2022.

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