The Words Matter Podcast with Oliver Thomson

Physiotherapist and back pain researcher Dr Ben Darlow chats with Dr Oliver Thomson about the how the dominant discourses within back pain care can shape patients' beliefs, emotions and behaviours and how by re-focusing our clinical interaction, provides patients an opportunity for better pain experiences and better health outcomes.

Show Notes

In this episode of The Words Matter Podcast, Dr Oliver Thomson speaks with Dr Ben Darlow. Ben is a clinician, teacher and researcher. He works clinically as a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Specialist based in private practice in Wellington, New Zealand.

His teaching and research are based in the Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice at the University of Otago. More about Ben's academic work. His research interests lie in the understanding and management of common musculoskeletal conditions like low back pain and osteoarthritis. here.
Many of you will be aware of Ben’s excellent research into back pain beliefs; both his qualitative work such as his papers “The enduring impact of what clinicians say to patients with LBP” (see here), and “Easy to harm and hard to heal, patients view about the back” (see here), plus the development of the back pain attitudes questionnaire otherwise known as the BACK-PAQ tool, which is now widely used by researchers across the globe in the study of back pain(see here). His work features heavily in the Words Matter online course on effective language and communication in the management of back pain (details here).
In this episode we talked about the nature, origins and importance of back pain beliefs. We dig down into the role of the clinician in co-structuring beliefs, narratives and frameworks with people experiencing back pain. We also explored the challenges and opportunities of providing diagnoses and explanations to people in pain.
I was really excited to speak to Ben, he was way up on the list of people I wanted to have on the show and his work has been hugely transformative for my own clinical work and I know influential for many MSK colleagues.  Ben is a wealth of knowledge and able to relate his knowledge of the evidence to clinical practice in immensely engaging, passionate and accessible way. I bring You Dr Ben Darlow.

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What is The Words Matter Podcast with Oliver Thomson?

The Words Matter Podcast brings you insights, reflections and conversations focused on the latest evidence, theory, philosophy and practice of communication-focused healthcare.

Find out about the more tacit, 'softer' and personal side of clinical practice such as the role of philosophy, beliefs, behaviours, developing therapeutic relationships or the purposeful use of language with people experiencing pain from expert academics, clinicians and researchers from across the world and spanning the musculoskeletal disciplines. This podcast will help you reflect on your own current practice and inform and stimulate you to consider new ways of approaching your practice and patients, to create a better clinical experience and outcomes in people with musculoskeletal pain.

Hosted by Dr Oliver Thomson PhD, an osteopath and Associate Professor who is passionate about researching and educating clinicians on a revised narrative, communication and biopsychosocial approach to musculoskeletal therapy. If you like the podcast, subscribe and check out the online learning and resources at

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