Dr James McAuley


Research Fellow and Group Leader, NeuRA Conjoint Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW
Honorary Research Fellow, The George Institute for Global Health

+612 9399 1266

Dr McAuley is a Research Fellow and group leader of the McAuley Pain Group at NeuRA. He has been researching low back pain for 12 years, since he obtained his PhD from Brunel University UK in 2002. After immigrating to Australia in 2004 he took up a post doc at the University of Sydney with Profs Chris Maher and Kathryn Refshauge and then at the George Institute for Global Health. In 2010 he jointed Prof Moseley at NeuRA and was appointed group leader in 2014.

Projects Dr James McAuley is currently involved with


SLEEPain clinical trial

In this randomised controlled trial we are investigating whether a simple sleep intervention can not only improve sleep quality of patients with acute low back pain but also lead to reduced pain and disability.


SLEEPain clinical trial

RESOLVE clinical trial

Our NHMRC funded randomised controlled trial for chronic low back pain focuses on normalising sensation from the back.


RESOLVE clinical trial

PREVENT clinical trial

This NHMRC funded randomised controlled study aims to prevent people with acute low back pain developing chronic low back pain using an optimised pain education approach. In this intervention a specially trained pain clinician provides two one-hour consultations with a patient with acute low back pain to discuss their condition.


PREVENT clinical trial


Markus Hubscher

DR MARKUS HUEBSCHER Postdoctoral Fellow

Audrey Wang


Adrian Traeger2


Hopin Lee

HOPIN LEE PhD student

Ian Skinner


Edel O'Hagan

EDEL O’HAGEN Masters student

Matt Bagg


Martin Rabey

MARTIN RABEY Research Assistant


How does pain lead to disability? A systematic review and meta-analysis of mediation studies in people with back and neck pain.

Lee H, Hübscher M, Moseley GL, Kamper SJ, Traeger AC, Mansell G, McAuley JH

Disability is an important outcome from a clinical and public health perspective. However, it is unclear how disability develops in people with low back pain or neck pain. More specifically, the mechanisms by which pain leads to disability are not well understood. Mediation analysis is a way of investigating these mechanisms by examining the extent to which an intermediate variable explains the effect of an exposure on an outcome. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to identify and examine the extent to which putative mediators explain the effect of pain on disability in people with low back pain or neck pain. Five electronic databases were searched. We found 12 studies (N = 2961) that examined how pain leads to disability with mediation analysis. Standardized regression coefficients (β) of the indirect and total paths were pooled. We found evidence to show that self-efficacy (β = 0.23, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.10 to 0.34), psychological distress (β = 0.10, 95% CI = 0.01 to 0.18), and fear (β = 0.08, 95% CI = 0.01 to 0.14) mediated the relationship between pain and disability, but catastrophizing did not (β = 0.07, 95% CI = -0.06 to 0.19). The methodological quality of these studies was low, and we highlight potential areas for development. Nonetheless, the results suggest that there are significant mediating effects of self-efficacy, psychological distress, and fear, which underpins the direct targeting of these constructs in treatment.

Effect of Primary Care-Based Education on Reassurance in Patients With Acute Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.

Traeger AC, Hübscher M, Henschke N, Moseley GL, Lee H, McAuley JH

To determine whether patient education in primary care increases reassurance in patients with acute or subacute low back pain (LBP). There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that patient education in primary care can provide long-term reassurance for patients with acute or subacute LBP.

Understanding how pain education causes changes in pain and disability: protocol for a causal mediation analysis of the PREVENT trial.

Lee H, Moseley GL, Hübscher M, Kamper SJ, Traeger AC, Skinner IW, McAuley JH
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