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Our research focus is on musculoskeletal health with a focus on spinal health

Spine problems are often associated with comorbidities and affect the whole health and well-being of people. Therefore, the scope of our research extends beyond the spine

A narrow biomedical view is not helpful when trying to understand persistent pain and disability. Therefore, our research aims to understand the bio- psycho-social mechanisms underpinning musculoskeletal pain and its consequences

Musculoskeletal pain and disability occur at all ages from the young to the elderly. Therefore, we are interested in investigating the life course of musculoskeletal conditions generally, and of spinal conditions in particular

If we are to positively impact the increasing burden of chronic musculoskeletal disorders, we need to determine the best ways of managing spinal pain both within and outside the clinical context.

For an overview of our Research Strategy, please click here.

Examples of research projects

GLA:D Back

GLA:D® BACK is a treatment option for patients with persistent or recurrent low back pain that affects everyday life. The program was developed by researchers and clinicians at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU).

The program follows the Danish National Board of Health’s clinical guideline recommendations for the treatment of patients with back pain and is based on principles of self-management similar to GLA:D® for patients with knee and hip pain.

GLA:D® BACK consists of:

  1. EDUCATION of chiropractors and physiotherapists in running GLA:D® BACK courses for patients.
  2. TREATMENT PROGRAM consisting of education and a structured exercise program
  3. REGISTRATION of patient data in the GLA:D® registry

You can read more about GLA:D® Back here, GLA:D® Denmark here and GLA:D® international here.


The importance of early motor skills. A cohort study of Danish Preschool children with a nested RCT: The Motor skills in PreSchool (MiPS) study-DK

All preschools in the municipality of Svendborg has implemented a new program aimed at optimizing the children’s motor skills. Through an RCT design, this project will document a potential effect of the intervention.

Furthermore, a cohort has been established, including 850 children with extensive baseline- and follow-up data on gross and fine motor skills, movement patterns, musculoskeletal complaints, physical activity, anthropometry, general wellbeing, cognitive abilities, language status, medical history, parental background and more.

The children were 3-6 years of age at baseline, and the cohort is planned to run at least till the children leave school at age 15-16.

A Danish back pain cohort in general practice (‘Hånd om din Ryg’)

The aim of the study is to identified needs for improved back pain management in general practice.

Using a nationwide cohort study, we investigate the content of care, patient- and clinician-level drivers of variation in care, and factors affecting the decision processes in managing back pain in Danish general practice. The cohort will be a resource for multiple research projects with the relevance for end-users ensured by involvement of general practitioners and patients in the study design.

The national cohort is a collaboration between the Research units of General practice, Diagnostic Center at the Regional Hospital of Silkeborg  and Center for Muscle and Joint Health, SDU.

You can read more about the study here.

Ongoing PhD projects

Pain in the spine and elsewhere- patterns and consequences. A PhD thesis based on HUNT data.

Individuals with persistent LBP commonly presents with a range of additional health problems. Persistent LBP with co-occurring musculoskeletal pain is reported to be more frequent and distinctly different from persistent LBP that occur alone, with poorer prognosis, more negative health outcomes, and increased health care utilization. However, persistent LBP is often treated as a condition on its own, irrespective of musculoskeletal comorbidity.

To improve patient outcomes, it is important to identify and get better insight into LBP phenotypes. The overall aim of this project is therefore to determine prevalence, patterns, consequences, and predictors of co-occurring musculoskeletal pain among people reporting low back pain.

Cecilie Krage Øverås

Prevalence’s and added diagnostic value of upright lumbar MRI findings (compared to recumbent lumbar MRI) in identifying low back pain presence or severity in patients

The use of conventional recumbent MRI has many benefits for low back pain patients, in reaching a diagnosis and guiding effective management of the condition. However, it has been suggested that recumbent positioning in many cases underestimate degenerative pathologies as oppose to upright MRI.

In this observational study 230 participants underwent both recumbent and upright MRI. Image evaluations were performed in a validated and standardized format and baseline data collected (anamnestic, symptomatic, physical/psychologic functioning and socio/economic status).


  1. What are the differences in prevalence’s of lumbar MRI findings in the upright versus supine positions in patients?
  2. What is the added diagnostic value of upright lumbar MRI (compared to recumbent lumbar MRI) in identifying low back pain presence or severity in patients?

Klaus Doktor

Self-management and health care utilization in people with low back pain

 The overall aim of this PhD-project is to investigate if self-management support can lead to more optimal health care use in people with LBP.

The project contains three different studies:

  1. A systematic review investigating the effect of interventions designed to support self-management on health care utilization for people with musculoskeletal pain.
  2. A cohort study describing patterns of health care utilization in people with persistent LBP and investigating differences across socioeconomic groups.
  3. A study investigating changes in health care use after participation in a patient education and exercise program aimed to increase self-management.

Søren Grøn

Completed Ph.d projects

Sidst opdateret: 31.08.2022