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The Maintaining Musculoskeletal Health Study

The Maintaining Musculoskeletal Health Study is run by researchers at the University of Aberdeen. We hope to find out if a short-course of cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, over the telephone prevents development of chronic widespread pain (CWP) in people at high risk. 

The study is led by Professor Gary Macfarlane at the University of Aberdeen and funded by Arthritis Research UK. It is important to manage the symptoms of CWP as quickly as possible because the longer it lasts the less chance there is of being able to successfully treat it. 

Patients who have visited their GP with pain and report other symptoms which mean they are at high risk of CWP, will be recruited. Half of those taking part will be allocated to sessions of CBT on the phone with a trained therapist over seven weeks, with booster sessions three and six months later. Sessions will be specific to each individual, but will encourage participants to identify helpful and unhelpful thoughts and feelings related to their symptoms, to find ways to overcome everyday problems, and to build in aspects of a healthy lifestyle to their daily routine. People in the control arm of the trial will receive the care their doctor would normally provide. 

UPDATE: Recruitment was completed at the end of March 2017 with over 1000 people taking part. The study is now in follow-up and everybody who was recruited to the study will be followed-up over the next two years.



The University of Aberdeen is the sponsor for this study based in the United Kingdom. We will be using information from you in order to undertake this study and will act as the data controller for this study. This means that we are responsible for looking after your information and using it properly. The University of Aberdeen will keep identifiable information about you for 5 years after the study has finished.

Your rights to access, change or move your information are limited, as we need to manage your information in specific ways in order for the research to be reliable and accurate. If you withdraw from the study, we will keep the information about you that we have already obtained. To safeguard your rights, we will use the minimum personally-identifiable information possible.

You can find out more about how we use your information at or by contacting Iain Gray, University Data Protection Officer.