Low back pain (LBP) is a common and recurrent problem in the general population, and especially among office workers.

Office workers spend most of their working day sitting, and there is increasing evidence that sedentary behaviour at work is associated with negative health impacts, including LBP.

Reducing sitting duration and bouts of prolonged sitting (≥ 30 min) may help to reduce LBP. A strategy being increasingly adopted to reduce prolonged sitting is to spend some of the work day standing. However, the optimal ‘sit-stand ratio’ to ease LBP is currently unknown.

We are investigating the impact of two sit-stand recommendations on LBP over a 3-month period.

Participants will be randomly allocated to receive one of the following:

  • Alternating sitting and standing based on a fixed ‘sit-stand ratio’.
  • Alternating sitting and standing based on a flexible ‘sit-stand ratio’ that you have decided on with help from the study physiotherapist.

Should you agree to participate in this study, you will be asked to:

  • Use your sit-stand desk or workstation as prescribed by the research team for 3 months.
  • Provide information on your LBP each day for 1 week before starting the study, during the study for 1 week (at week 2) and after the end of the study for 1 week (at 3 months) via an app or self-report diary.
  • Wear an activity monitor (24 × 43 × 5 mm; 10 g) on the front of the right thigh for 7 days (24 hours per day) before the intervention, during (2 weeks) and after the intervention (3 months). The small lightweight monitor is attached using a hypoallergenic adhesive waterproof patch. The monitor will be used to collect data on your sitting, standing and stepping time. It will not collect any data on your location. You will be asked to report your wake and sleep times, work times, and monitor removals via an app or self-report diary. A research assistant will visit you in your office to show you how to use the monitor, and provide you with written instructions for its use.
  • Provide information about yourself (e.g. age, education, job category), your LBP, pain in any other body parts (e.g. shoulder, neck), and your work environment before starting the study and after end of the study (at 3 months) in an online survey. The online survey will take approximately 25-30 minutes to complete.
  • Provide information on whether you thought the intervention was acceptable and satisfactory at 3 months only.

Some participants will also be asked to:

  • Participate in a telephone interview to talk more about the study. An example of the type of questions that may be asked is: “Were there any supporting factors that assisted you in following the recommendation?”

You'll receive:

Participants will receive a $40 gift card upon completion.


You can participate in this study if you:

  • have low back pain
  • are a predominantly desk-based worker who uses a sit-stand desk or workstation
  • work at least 0.5 FTE
  • are not pregnant
  • do not have a medical condition that limits your ability to stand
  • do not have allergies to adhesive tape such as Hypafix and Opsite.

Register your interest:

To see if you are eligible and to provide your contact details please complete this survey.

Or to find out more about the study, please contact Honorary Associate Professor Venerina Johnston via phone +61 7 3346 4816 or email v.johnston@uq.edu.au.

This study has been approved by The University of Queensland Human Research Ethics Committee [Approval No. 2019001270]