ISCP showcases Lancet study finding ‘personalised physiotherapy’ treatment  offers new hope for  back pain, saving €3000 per patient

  • Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists public webinar to recommend that treatment of back pain should consider  physical, psychological and lifestyle factors
  • Irish co-author of international trial endorses ‘individualised approach’ to help patients with the biggest cause of disability in the world
  • Employers, health insurers and governments should support new approach, with potential to save €3,000 per patient
  • Long-term sufferers of back pain experienced reduced pain intensity in international study of 500 people, published in The Lancet


The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) is hosting a public  webinar showcasing the results of a revolutionary  international clinical trial published in the Lancet by one of its members, recommending  ‘personalised physiotherapy’ for persistent back pain.

Based in the University of Limerick ,Professor Kieran O’Sullivan  is  a member of the  ISCP, a professional body representing over 3,200 Chartered Physiotherapists in Ireland.

Professor O’Sullivan is part of an international team spanning three countries that developed ‘Cognitive Functional Therapy’ (CFT), an individualised approach that  addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of persistent back pain. The most recent update of the clinical trial,  involving more than 500 people, confirms that the  new approach is highly  cost-effective, saving around €3000 per person, mostly from getting people back to work, and keeping them at work.



Speaking about the latest results Professor O’Sullivan said: “It’s been clear to us for  decades that back pain is influenced not just by  physical factors, such as strength and posture, but also by psychological factors such as worries and mood, social factors including  work and family commitments, and lifestyle considerations such as sleep.  However most people seeking care for back pain still receive mostly traditional, more passive approaches – these might include massage, spinal manipulation, medication and injections. In contrast,  with the CFT approach, the person with pain is coached to better understand the unique set of factors contributing to their pain, and then trained to self-manage their pain and health over a few months.”

What works for one person may not work for another person. By spending time getting to really know the person with back pain, and not only looking at their scans, it’s possible to identify specific triggers for their pain . The way we have traditionally trained medical professionals to treat back pain needs to change in line with the evidence on back pain. What we’re advocating  is a little more-time consuming initially but the benefits to patients,  society and the economy are very real. Furthermore the types of treatments that governments, health insurers and employers support and subsidise needs to reflect what actually works, rather than what we have done traditionally.”

CEO designate of the ISCP, Dr Marie Ó Mír said: “We are delighted to host this seminar highlighting the work of one of our eminent members.  This research is significant not only in the approach advocated but also because it demonstrates a clear economic benefit, which will be interest to the Department of Health, employers and insurers. We will be encouraging Chartered Physiotherapists to adopt this approach and we will be highlighting the benefits to policy-makers through our advocacy work in the coming months.”




ISCP Public Webinar : New hope for people with back pain: how personalised physiotherapy can revolutionise back pain

When: Tuesday 23rd May 2023  Time 7.30pm to 9pm

Register for free here:


For further information please contact

More on Professor Kieran O’Sullivan here via UL