Back pain

Dr Julia Smedley, lead consultant on the 2011 back pain audit talks about the top line results

The national clinical audit of the occupational health (OH) management of back pain in NHS staff was established in 2008. A second round of the national audit of back pain management has now taken place. Data collection for this audit finished in December 2011 and the results were published in May 2012.

This new report describes the findings from round two and the progress made since round one.

Over 90% of all NHS Trusts in England took part in the audit which was conducted by the Health and Work Development Unit of the Royal College of Physicians.

Overall, the audit found that occupational health professionals have improved their management of back pain in the three years since the previous audit in 2008.

Some areas of practice are a priority for further improvement:

  • screening for markers of serious spinal pathology (red flags)
  • screening for psychosocial risk factors for chronicity and disability (yellow flags) 
  • giving appropriate educational information to patients.

Participating services should review their results against the national performance and plan actions to improve local practice.


Copies of the reports from this audit together with the reports from the first round of audit and a report from subsequent implementation workshops are available below.

Back pain management: ful report - round 2/2011

Back pain management: executive summary - round 2/2011

Back pain management: full report - round1/2008

Back pain management: executive summary - round 1/2008

Report from regional implementation workshops 2009

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