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Cognitive behavioural (CB) approaches are effective in the management of non-specific low back pain (LBP). We developed the CB Back Skills Training programme (BeST) and previously provided evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness in a large pragmatic trial. However, practice change is challenged by a lack of treatment guidance and training for clinicians. We aimed to explore the feasibility and acceptability of an online programme (iBeST) for providing training in a CB approach.This mixed methods study comprised an individually randomised controlled trial of 35 physiotherapists and an interview study of 8 physiotherapists. Participants were recruited from 8 National Health Service departments in England and allocated by a computer generated randomisation list to receive iBeST (n = 16) or a face-to-face workshop (n = 19). Knowledge (of a CB approach), clinical skills (unblinded assessment of CB skills in practice), self-efficacy (reported confidence in using new skills), attitudes (towards LBP management), and satisfaction were assessed after training. Engagement with iBeST was assessed with user analytics. Interviews explored acceptability and experiences with iBeST. Data sets were analysed independently and jointly interpreted.Fifteen (94 %) participants in the iBeST group and 16 (84 %) participants in the workshop group provided data immediately after training. We observed similar scores on knowledge (MD (95 % CI): 0.97 (-1.33, 3.26)), and self-efficacy to deliver the majority of the programme (MD (95 % CI) 0.25 (-1.7; 0.7)). However, the workshop group showed greater reduction in biomedical attitudes to LBP management (MD (95 % CI): -7.43 (-10.97, -3.89)). Clinical skills were assessed in 5 (33 %) iBeST participants and 7 (38 %) workshop participants within 6 months of training and were similar between groups (MD (95 % CI): 0.17(-0.2; 0.54)). Interviews highlighted that while initially sceptical, participants found iBeST acceptable. A number of strategies were identified to enhance future versions of iBeST such as including more skills practice.Combined quantitative and qualitative data indicated that online training was an acceptable and promising method for providing training in an evidence based complex intervention. With future enhancement, the potential reach of this training method may facilitate evidence-based practice through large scale upskilling of the workforce.Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN82203145 (registered prospectively on 03.09.2012).

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Medical Education


BioMed Central

Publication Date





163 - 163


Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.


Humans, Low Back Pain, Feasibility Studies, Program Evaluation, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Cognitive Therapy, Clinical Competence, Computer-Assisted Instruction, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Program Development, Female, Male, Evidence-Based Practice, Young Adult, Physicians, Primary Care