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Complement Ther Med. 2010 Jun-Aug;18(3-4):119-27. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2010.05.037. Epub 2010 Jul 3.

Participating in and delivering the ATEAM trial (Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage) interventions for chronic back pain: A qualitative study of professional perspectives.

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  • 1Department of Social Medicine, Canynge Hall, University of Bristol, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PR, United Kingdom.



To outline professionals' experiences of participation, perceived benefits and acceptability of the interventions delivered in the ATEAM trial (Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage), for patients with chronic or recurrent back pain.


Qualitative study using in-depth interviews was conducted with a purposeful sample of twenty professionals (general practitioners (GPs), nurses, Alexander technique teachers, and massage therapists). Data were recorded, transcribed, and analysed thematically using the constant comparison method.


Evidence of effectiveness GPs wanted an evidence base for the interventions, whilst nurses, Alexander technique teachers and massage therapists perceived patient reports of benefit as evidence. Professionals' perception of the acceptability of the intervention: professional perspectives differed, with GPs and nurses viewing the structured nature of exercise prescription and Alexander technique lessons as more beneficial and acceptable than massage in alleviating patients' back pain. Economic cost: the cost to patients pursuing Alexander technique lessons and massage was perceived to be a barrier outside the trial. Inter-professional communication: there was little communication between the professionals groups within the trial.


Valuable insights have been gained into the perceived benefits and acceptability of exercise, Alexander technique lessons and massage as interventions for chronic back pain. Lessons in the Alexander technique with or without exercise, was perceived as more beneficial and acceptable than massage by professionals who participated and delivered the ATEAM trial interventions.

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