The Positive Health Approach 

Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and its burden further increases with an ageing population. Evidence suggests that the prevention of long-term disability from low back pain can be achieved by adopting a ‘positive health approach’.

The idea of positive health is defined as ‘the ability to adapt and to self-manage, in the face of social, physical and emotional challenges. A positive health approach focuses on alternatives to treatments and cures, and focuses on the adjustment of the patient’s attitudes and beliefs about the problem e.g. low back pain. 

For people experiencing persistent low back pain, a ‘positive health approach’ would encompass helping patient develop active coping strategies including:

  • Exercise therapy
  • Integrating pain knowledge and understanding into daily activity  
  • Fostering confidence and safety during movement/physical activity
  • Stress reduction and relaxation strategies
  • Changing unhelpful thoughts and beliefs about physical activity, pain and injury



Huber M, van Vliet M, Giezenberg M, et al. Towards a ‘patient-centred’ operationalisation of the new dynamic concept of health: a mixed methods study. BMJ Open 2016; 5: e010091

Buchbinder R, van Tulder M, Oberg B, Costa LM, Woolf A, Schoene M, et al. Low back pain: a call for action. Lancet. 2018;391(10137):2384–88.