Well informed physician-patient communication in consultations on back pain-study protocol of the cluster randomized GAP trial

Sebastian Voigt-Radloff, Andrea C. Schöpf, Martin Boeker, Luca Frank, Erik Farin, Klaus Kaier, Mirjam Körner, Katharina Wollmann, Britta Lang, Joerg J. Meerpohl, Ralph Möhler, Wilhelm Niebling, Julia Serong, Renate Lange, Piet Van Der Keylen, Andy Maun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Back pain is one of the most frequent causes of health-related work absence. In Germany, more than 70% of adults suffer from at least one back pain episode per annum. It has strong impact on health care costs and patients' quality of life. Patients increasingly seek health information on the internet. However, judging its trustworthiness is difficult. In addition, physicians who are being confronted with this type of information often experience it to complicate the physician-patient interaction. The GAP trial aims to develop, implement and evaluate an evidence-based, easy-to-understand and trustworthy internet information portal on lower back pain to be used by general practitioners and patients during and after the consultation. Effectiveness of GAP portal use compared to routine consultation on improving communication and informedness of both physicians and patients will be assessed. In addition, effects on health care costs and patients' days of sick leave will be evaluated. Methods: We will conduct a prospective multi-centre, cluster-randomized parallel group trial including 1500 patients and 150 recruiting general practitioners. The intervention group will have access to the GAP portal. The portal will contain brief guides for patients and physicians on how to improve the consultation as well as information on epidemiology, aetiology, symptoms, benefits and harms of treatment options for acute, sub-acute and chronic lower back pain. The GAP portal will be designed to be user-friendly and present information on back pain tailored for either patients or physicians in form of brief fact sheets, educative videos, info-graphics, animations and glossaries. Physicians and patients will assess their informedness and the physician-patient communication in consultations at baseline and at two time points after the consultations under investigation. Days of sick leave and health care costs related to back pain will be compared between control and intervention group using routine data of company health insurance funds. Discussion: The GAP-trial intends to improve the communication between physicians and their patients and the informedness of both groups. If proven beneficial, the evidence-based and user-friendly portal will be made accessible for all patients and health professionals in back pain care. Inclusion of further indications might be implemented and evaluated in the long term. Trial registration: German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00014279 (registered 27th of April 2018).

Original languageEnglish
Article number33
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - 25 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Health communication
  • Internet portal
  • Lower back pain
  • Primary health care


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