About Dr Trudy Rebbeck

Dr Rebbeck’s research interests firstly include understanding mechanisms associated with pain and disability in people with cervical spine disorders including neck pain, headache, whiplash and dizziness. This programme of research has included investigating neurochemicals in migraine and other musculoskeletal pain disorders, developing innovative clinical measures of muscle function and pain sensitivity. Dr Rebbeck has a strong research translation and implementation interest in musculoskeletal health. She has developed and implemented clinical guidelines for whiplash using several strategies such as e-health and face to face education. This programme of research has successfully changed practise of primary and secondary health care professionals providing care for people with whiplash. She has developed and implemented novel and innovative health service delivery models in primary care that include risk-stratification and stepped care. The programme of research that has discovered new mechanisms, and then successfully translated findings into health service delivery models, will have significant impact on the health of those with musculoskeletal pain-Australia’s HIGHEST disease burden.

Dr Rebbeck's research expertise is extensive, including running large cohort studies and randomised controlled trials for people with musculoskeletal disorders, focused on headache, neck pain and whiplash. She has co-ordinated multi-disciplinary teams to develop and implement clinical guidelines for low back pain and whiplash. Supervision expertise includes 7 PhD students (4/4 completed to date), over 30 masters by course work students and 5 clinical specialisation candidates. Dr Rebbeck has over 40 publications (20 in past 5 years), h-Index of 14, over 1000 citations, and publications in the highest impact journals within and external to her profession. She has a strong background in implementation and translational research, which has resulted in in improved practice amongst several health professional groups and direct translation into policy. Her educational and clinical expertise is world recognized and enables successful and effective translation of research. As an educator, she presents at national and international post-graduate courses in the management of cervical spine disorders (over 10 national / international invitations in the past 2 years). She has demonstrated excellence in HDR supervision, with 3 of her students having won awards for their work at international conferences over the past 5 years. She has supervised 4/4 HDR students to completion and has 3 currently under her supervision. Two of her honours students have won the university medal. Dr Rebbeck is a clinical specialist. Fellowship awarded by the Australian College of Physiotherapists in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy, equivalent to a Fellowship in Medicine. She retains a 0.4FTE clinical appointment as the director of a Specialist Physiotherapy Centre. Here she provides reviews for patients with complex spinal pain disorders, educates the primary carers who refer them and mentors and teaches trainee specialists.


Dr Rebbeck has over 40 publications (20 in past 5 years), a h-Index of 14, over 1000 citations, and publications in the highest impact journals within and external to her profession.  These include publications in Lancet, Cephalalgia, NMR Biomedicine, Pain, Journal of Physiotherapy, Physical Therapy and the Canadian Medical Association Journal.  Her competitive grant funding totals over $5m including (CIA NHMRC APP1141377 Project Grant 2018-2022 $1525,730; CIB NHMRC APP1075736 2014-2017 $583,096).  She has been CIA on 4 competitive industry grants totaling $480,000.   She was awarded an ECR Fellowship with NHMRC in 2013 [APP10053544 2013-2016] and a University of Sydney/ Faculty of Health Sciences Fellowship in 2017. 

The translational impact of her research has been strong.  The combination of her research, clinical and education expertise in the area of guideline development and implementation of best practise in musculoskeletal health conditions has allowed for effective and immediate translation of research to end users including patients, clinicians and health policy makers.  She was engaged directly by the NSW government (Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation and State Insurance Regulatory Authority) as an expert consultant on the recent CTP Motor Accidents Bill (Dec 2017). 

Recently Dr Rebbeck has developed a novel clinical pathway of care to apply to common musculoskeletal conditions such as low back pain, knee osteoarthritis and neck pain. These are Australia's highest disease burden.  The project brings together leading researchers in the University of Sydney in Musculoskeletal Health, as well as researchers at the University of Queensland, Melbourne and Curtin Universities.  Disciplines involved include physiotherapy, rehabilitation medicine, psychology, pain medicine and health economics.  As CIA on the NHMRC grant (2018-2020; $1.5m) Dr Rebbeck seeks to revolutionize health service delivery for musculoskeletal disorders.

Selected publications

  1. Michaleff Z, Maher C, Lin C, Rebbeck T, Jull G, Latimer L, Connelly L, Sterling M. "Comprehensive physiotherapy exercise programme or advice for chronic whiplash (PROMISE): a pragmatic randomised controlled trial." Lancet 384(9938): 133-141. IF: 45.27 Citations: 80. This paper by my PhD student impacted the management of whiplash wourldwide, attracted significant media attention and called into queston whether whiplash should be managed comprehesively or not. Best paper at World Physio Congress 2015. 
  2. Aguila ME; Lagopoulos J; Leaver AM; Rebbeck T; Hubscher M; Brennan PC; Refshauge KM. (2015). Elevated levels of GABA+ in migraine detected using (1) H-MRS. NMR in Biomedicine, 2015:28(7):890-7. IF 3.04. Citations:11.  Discovering a potential biomarker for migraine was ground breaking in migraine research. This work by my PhD student received international media attention and an award at International Pain Conference in Buenos Aires. 
  3. Aguila ME, Rebbeck T, Leaver AM, Lagopoulos J, Brennan PC, Hübscher M,Refshauge KM.  The association between clinical characteristics of migraine and brain GABA levels: An exploratory study. J Pain. 2016; 17:10.  This follow up paper was the Cover art for the journal for that volume. It is a stylised image from an output of the editing process of GABA from the spectroscopy data. 
  4. Kamper SJ, Rebbeck TJ, Maher CG, McAuley JH, Sterling M. (2008) Course and prognostic factors of whiplash: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain;138(3):617-29. IF: 5.21 Citations: 210. This highly cited paper was the first to systematically pool data on the course of recovery after whiplash. It remains the main document that authors base recovery rates on. 
  5. van der Wees PJ, Jamtvedt G, Rebbeck T, de Bie RA, Dekker J, Hendriks EJ.(2008) Multifaceted strategies may increase implementation of physiotherapy clinical guidelines: a systematic review. Journal of Physiotherapy 54(4):233-41. IF: 3.7 Citations: 104.  My first paper with international leaders in guideline implementation is cited widely as the document to base implementation/ translation strategies on in physiotherapy.
  6. Rebbeck T, Moloney N, Azoory R, Hübscher M, Waller R, Gibbons R, Beales D. (2015). Clinical Ratings of Pain Sensitivity Correlate With Quantitative Measures in People With Chronic Neck Pain and Healthy Controls: Cross-Sectional Study. Physical Therapy, 2015: 95:1536-1546 If: 3.24 Citations 71.  Published just 2 years ago, this paper has allowed clinicians to detect pain sensitivity without laboratory measures.  Already the method is used in clinical practise across Australia and is taught in leading Australian Universities. 
  7. Cameron ID, Rebbeck T, Sindhusake D, Rubin G, Feyer AM, Walsh J (2008) Legislative change is associated with improved health status in people with whiplash. Spine 33(3):250-4. IF: 2.45 Citations: 52.   The translational impact of this work has led to international policy makers considering legislative change to improve recovery for people with whiplash. 
  8. Rebbeck T, Sindhusake D, Cameron I, Rubin G, Feyer A, Walsh J. (2006). A prospective cohort study of outcomes following whiplash associated disorders in an Australian population. Injury Prevention 12: 93-98. IF:1.89 Citations: 101.  One of the first papers to challenge the widely held belief that 80% of people recover after whiplash, when in fact it showed that only 50% do. It led to an explosion of research in this area.
  9. Magarey M, Rebbeck T, Coughlan B, Grimmer K., Rivett D, Refshauge K.Pre-manipulative testing of the cervical spine review, revision and new clinical guidelines. Manual Therapy 9 (2) 95-108. IF:1.8 Citations:131.  This was one of the first papers published addressing the safety of pre-manipulative testing. The guidelines became the standard for practice in the profession internationally and are still referred to. 
  10. Guidelines for the management of Acute whiplash-associated disorders - for health professionals. 3rd edition (2014) © State Government Regulatroy Authority (SIRA) of NSW. Steering Committee (alphabetically): Professor Ian Cameron, Professor Lisa Harvey, Dr Joe Ierano, Dr Jagnoor Jagnoor, Dr Kathryn Nicholson Perry, Dr Trudy Rebbeck, Professor Michele Sterling, Dr Clive Sun, Professor Simon Wilcock.  These and previous editions that I have co-authored (2001, 2007) have become standard in Australian university cirricula and endorsed by several professional bodies.