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Inter-individual differences in the responses of patients with low back pain to exercise interventions.

Project Description

The aim of this PhD programme is to investigate if true and clinically important inter-individual differences in response to exercise therapy exist for people with low back pain.

The primary outcomes of interest will be pain and function. The secondary outcomes of interest will include a range of psychosocial outcome measures including measures such as pain related fear, mood, pain self-efficacy, catastrophizing, distress and quality of life.


This PhD programme will include systematic review and secondary analysis of publicly available databases. These two methodological approaches will be combined with our novel true inter-individual differences analysis.

Systematic reviews of the literature investigating exercise therapy for people with low back pain will be undertaken. The review will look at exercise therapy as a single entity and then be further broken down into the main exercise therapy sub-types including but not limit to; aerobic exercise, strengthening exercise and motor control exercises. Appropriate inter-individual differences analysis will be undertaken to investigate if true variability in response to exercise (and different types of exercise) occurs or not.

Key, high quality, randomised controlled trials (such as the UK BEAM trial) that have investigated the effectiveness of exercise therapy for people with low back pain will be identified from the systematic review process. Then, where possible (i.e. the data are available on a publicly available database or can be obtained from the original authors), the true inter-individual differences approach will be applied at the individual patient level to further investigate if true variability in response to exercise (and different types of exercise) occurs or not.


Applicants must apply using the online form on the University Alliance website at Full details of the programme, eligibility details and a list of available research projects can be seen at

The final deadline for application is 12 April 2019.

Funding Notes

DTA3/COFUND participants will be employed for 36 months with a minimum salary of (approximately) £20,989 per annum. Tuition fees will waived for DTA3/COFUND participants who will also be able to access an annual DTA elective bursary to enable attendance at DTA training events and interact with colleagues across the Doctoral Training Alliance(s).
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 801604.

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