Alberta Back Care pathway (ABCp)

University of Alberta


Low back pain (LBP) is a musculoskeletal problem with massive negative impact on society. An important cause of this problem is that Canadians regularly seek LBP care from primary care physicians due to their ease of access and low cost. Unfortunately, primary care interventions for LBP patients are largely ineffective and potentially deadly. As a result, Alberta spends ~$54M/yr in low-value LBP care.

Fortunately, solutions are available. Focused patient education combined with structured exercise are first-line interventions recommended by numerous international guidelines. GLA:D Back is one such program. Developed in Denmark, GLA:D Back has been shown to reduce the pain, disability and resource usage associated with LBP.

Unfortunately, successful delivery of programs like GLA:D requires adequate time and compensation – current barriers prevent these programs from being offered in primary care. While these programs may be available outside of primary care, accessing them requires additional payment. As a result, greater than 50% of Canadians without extended health benefits (Indigenous, racialized, and newcomer Canadians) disproportionately experience low-value LBP care and its negative consequences.

To address this systemic problem, we have co-created an evidence-based, actionable intervention called Alberta Back Care pathway (ABCp). This novel intervention integrates the existing skills of family physicians (triage, reassurance, medications when appropriate) together with allied health care providers already employed by a primary care network (PCN) who we can then train to provide GLA:D Back. The result is that primary care patients experiencing LBP can now access first-line, evidence based LBP care within their own PCN at no-cost.

Roles and Responsibilities

This project is seeking a patient research partner with lived experience of navigating the Alberta health care system for treatment of LBP to join the Alberta Back Care pathway (ABCp) grant funding application and to review the project proposal for patient engagement aspects and perspective.

If funded, patient partners will be invited to collaborate on  development and updating of the project processes and activities.

Time Commitment

If funded this project anticipates starting Spring of 2023.

Patient partner collaboration and time commitment can be discussed, however it is anticipated the time commitment will be about an hour a month.

Compensation and Reimbursement

Compensation is being offered for this opportunity as per AbSPORU guidelines.

This is an online opportunity so no direct expenses for collaborating (i.e. travel and parking) are anticipated at this time.

For more information or to apply, please connect with
Greg Kawchuk

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University of Calgary Foothills Campus
3330 Hospital Dr NW
Calgary, AB T2N 4N1


College Plaza
1702, 8215 112 St NW
Edmonton, AB T6G 2C8

Land Acknowledgment

The Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit operates on and acknowledges the lands that are the traditional and ancestral territory of many peoples, presently subject to Treaties 6, 7, and 8. Namely: the Blackfoot Confederacy – Kainai, Piikani, and Siksika – the Cree, Dene, Saulteaux, Nakota Sioux, Stoney Nakoda, and the Tsuu T’ina Nation and the Métis People of Alberta. This includes the Métis Settlements and the Métis Nation of Alberta. We acknowledge the many First Nations, Métis and Inuit who have lived in and cared for these lands for generations. We make this acknowledgment as a reaffirmation of our shared commitment towards reconciliation, and as part of AbSPORU’s mandate towards fostering health system transformation.