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Risk Factors for Disabling Low Back Pain in Older Adults

What is the study about?

  • This study will look at the long-term impact of low back pain on physical function among older adults, as well as, the impact on cognitive, emotional, and social function.
  • This study will help determine the best evaluation approach for older adults with low back pain and provide knowledge of risk factors that may be associated with prolonged low back pain.

Who can participate?

  • To participate, you must…
    • be between the ages of 60 and 85 years.
    • have current low back pain.
    • have at least moderate low back pain.
    • have current low back pain.
    • have contacted your primary care physician about this pain or be willing to contact your physician.
    • be able to walk community distances, with or without a cane.
    • be able to complete phone interviews and written forms independently.
  • Additionally, you may NOT be able to participate if you have…
    • certain conditions of your back (i.e. ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, vertebral compression fractures, cancer that has spread to your spine)
    • leg pain that is greater than your back pain.
    • a progressive, concurrent condition (i.e. Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, etc.)
    • uncontrolled  high blood pressure.
    • severe vision or hearing loss.

How do I become a participant?

  • Contact Victoria Allen, RN, BSN, for this study at (302)-831-7142 to participate or if you have questions.
  • You will be asked to complete a phone interview, which is part of the initial screen to ensure that you meet the above requirements of the study.
  • If you pass this screen, we will explain the study in detail.
  • You may be invited to schedule an evaluation.

What will it be like if I am accepted into the study?

  • We will ask you to participate in 4 visits over 1 year at the University of Delaware: an initial visit and follow-up visits at 3, 6, and 12 months.
  • Each visit will be conducted by 2 or more licensed physical therapists.
  • Each visit will take about 3 hours.
    • You will receive a formal physical therapy evaluation that includes talking about your back pain, looking at how you move, testing your balance, and recording how you walk.
    • Physical therapists will also look at your back and hip muscles using an ultrasound machine similar to that used to assess women who are pregnant.
  • We will also ask you to participate in short, follow-up phone interviews (approximately 5 minutes) over the course of the study

Financial considerations

  • You will receive $50 compensation for each visit ($200 total).

Who may I contact for more information?

If you have any questions regarding this study, please contact Victoria Allen at (302) 831-7142, or by email at