Regenstrief Scientist Helping Lead $21M Study

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(Image courtesy of IUPUI) (Image courtesy of IUPUI)

A research scientist with the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis and the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs has been chosen to co-lead a national study to find a way to manage chronic lower back pain. The Department of Veterans Affairs is funding the $21 million, 20-site trial. Dr. Matthew Bair is leading the study with Dr. David Clark, who works from the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University. 

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports 80 percent of adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lives, which makes it the most disabling chronic condition in the world. Researchers say about 20 percent of those affected by acute low back pain develop pain that lasts 12 weeks or more, which is classified as chronic low back pain, which is difficult to treat. 

“We have an amazing opportunity to hopefully make a very large impact with this trial,” Dr. Bair said. “We believe this study could have greater implications for the treatment of chronic lower back pain in the general population.”

The study is called the Sequential and Comparative Evaluation of Pain Treatment Effectiveness Response (SCEPTER) trial, which is designed in two steps, to first randomly divide participants among three different treatments. Some will be assigned to a web-based program of self management, while others will be involved with physical therapist-led exercise programs and face-to-face appointments. The third group will receive the usual care for lower back pain, which includes ice/heat, rest and pain medication. Step two of the trial will compare yoga, chiropractic care and cognitive behavioral therapy where participants will be given the option to undergo a random therapy again, or allowed to opt out to be randomized in the other two groups. 

“This study is unique because it incorporates patient preferences,” said Dr. Bair. “We feel that patient preferences do predict treatment response, so patients are more likely to benefit from a treatment they prefer than one they don’t.” 

The six-year trial will include over 2,500 veterans at 20 sites. Funding was provided by the VA Cooperative Studies Program. 

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