Evaluation of a multimodal pain therapy approach with relapse prophylaxis for back pain (MMS-RFP study): a study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial


The need for an interdisciplinary multimodal approach to the treatment of back pain has already been demonstrated by various studies. However, when considering the periods of incapacity to work in the longitudinal course after the multimodal pain therapy (MPT), limits in terms of its sustainable effect become clear. Patients who receive MPT subsequently return to standard outpatient care, which is associated with a risk of relapse. A 12-month relapse prophylaxis (RP) programme, intended to follow a 4-week MPT, was developed to help patients make the transition to health-conscious and physically active behaviour in everyday life and to identify and prevent impending relapses at an early stage. The evaluation, based on a cluster randomised controlled trial, seeks to provide information on the benefits of early and intensive RP as part of MPT, examine whether it is cost effective, reduces the days of incapacity to work and increases functional capacity, as well as to examine other parameters.

Methods and analysis

The study population comprises members of a regional statutory health insurance fund in Germany, who are ≤62 years old, gainfully employed and have been incapacitated for work for at least 21 days due to a diagnosis of back pain. Over a recruitment period of 24 months, a maximum of 368 individuals can potentially be included in the MPT. The intervention group (IG) and control group (CG) will both receive MPT, after randomisation IG will receive RP and CG will receive no further therapy or support as part of the trial. The evaluation is carried out on the following levels: structural, process and results quality. Cost effectiveness is also assessed by means of a health economic evaluation. In addition to the collection of qualitative and quantitative primary data, claims data from the regional health insurance fund are also included in the analysis.

Ethics and dissemination

This study has received approval by the ethics committee of the Hannover Medical School (reference number: 8548_BO_S_2019). The study results will be disseminated in national and international journals and conference presentations.

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