Comparative Responsiveness and Minimal Clinically Important Differences for Idiopathic Ulnar Impaction Syndrome

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BackgroundPatient-reported questionnaires have been widely used to predict symptom severity and functional disability in musculoskeletal disease. Importantly, questionnaires can detect clinical changes in patients; however, this impact has not been determined for ulnar impaction syndrome.Questions/purposesWe asked (1) which of Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation (PRWE), DASH, and other physical measures was more responsive to clinical improvements, and (2) what was the minimal clinically important difference for the PRWE and DASH after ulnar shortening osteotomy for idiopathic ulnar impaction syndrome.MethodsAll patients who underwent ulnar shortening osteotomy between March 2008 and February 2011 for idiopathic ulnar impaction syndrome were enrolled in this study. All patients completed the PRWE and DASH questionnaires, and all were evaluated for grip strength and wrist ROM, preoperatively and 12 months postoperatively. We compared the effect sizes observed by each of these instruments. Effect size is calculated by dividing the mean change in a score of each instrument during a specified interval by the standard deviation of the baseline score. In addition, patient-perceived overall improvement was used as the anchor to determine the minimal clinically important differences on the PRWE and DASH 12 months after surgery.ResultsThe average score of each item except for wrist flexion and supination improved after surgery. The PRWE was more sensitive than the DASH or than physical measurements in detecting clinical changes. The effect sizes and standardized response means of the outcome measures were as follows: PRWE (1.51, 1.64), DASH (1.12, 1.24), grip strength (0.59, 0.68), wrist pronation (0.33, 0.41), and wrist extension (0.28, 0.36). Patient-perceived overall improvement and score changes of the PRWE and DASH correlated significantly. Minimal clinically important differences were 17 points (of a possible 100) for the PRWE and 13.5 for the DASH (also of 100), and minimal detectable changes were 7.7 points for the PRWE and 9.3 points for the DASH.ConclusionsAlthough the PRWE and DASH were highly sensitive to clinical changes, the PRWE was more sensitive in terms of detecting clinical changes after ulnar shortening osteotomy for idiopathic ulnar impaction syndrome. A minimal change of 17 PRWE points or 13.5 DASH points was necessary to achieve a benefit that patients perceived as clinically important. The minimal clinically important differences using these instruments were higher than the values produced by measurement errors.Level of EvidenceLevel II, prognostic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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