Staff reporter THE internationally renowned scientific journal, The Lancet, has published in its most recent edition, details of a clinical trial carried out by researchers in the Balearics under the auspices of the Kovacs Foundation. The clinical trial, as described by the president of the Foundation, Dr Francisco Kovacs, shows that, in contrast to what had been believed until now, a mattress providing medium support is of greater benefit to those suffering from back conditions than a hard one. The fact that The Lancet has published the results of our trial is very important, confirmed Dr Kovacs, and even more so when taking into account the fact that the prestigious journal has only published 12 Spanish contributions in the last 30 years. The Lancet has given recognition to the feasibility and relevance of our report added Dr Kovacs, acknowledging the fact that the clinical trial entitled The effect of the degree of firmness of a mattress on back pain was supported by the Balearic Ministry for Health and Consumer Affairs. Work on the trials meant the collaboration of a team of researchers, skilled in a variety of specialist subjects. Physiotherapists, orthopedic and neurosurgeons, anatomists and statisticians were among the professionals co-ordinated by the Foundation. Three hundred and thirteen adults with chronic back problems took part in the trials, randomly assigned to two groups. One group experimented with hard mattresses, and the other with ones of medium support. Additionally, the mattress base was checked and where necessary, a firmer support was installed. Over a period of three months, the study took note of the intensity of back pain experienced by the trial volunteers, both when on the bed and when getting up from it explained Kovacs. The degree of physical incapacity due to back pain, the existence of pain during the day and the dependence on medication, were all factors that were correlatively quantified. The results of the study showed that simply changing the mattress resulted in an important improvement in the level of pain experienced by both groups. Because physical discomfort was eased, the mattress changed ultimately meant that there was less dependence on medication to ease suffering. The improvement in physical comfort deserves recognition, since very few medicinal treatments have had such a positive effect on patients with chronic back pain said Dr Kovacs, the principal author of the study.