Outcome Assessments in the Evaluation of Treatment of Spinal Disorders: Summary and General Recommendations

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Abstract

Abstract.

Clinicians and researchers increasingly recognize the importance of the patient’s perspective in the evaluations of the effectiveness of treatment. The rapid growth in the number and types of patient-based outcome measures can be confusing. This supplement provides a state-of-the-art review of the available tools. In this paper, the key recommendations from the participating authors are summarized. A core set of measures should include the following five domains: back specific function, generic health status, pain, work disability, and patient satisfaction. Two commonly used measures of back-specific function are recommended: the Roland–Morris Disability Questionnaire and the Oswestry Disability Index. Among the generic measures, the SF-36 strikes the best balance between length, reliability, validity, responsiveness, and experience in large populations of patients with back pain. Moreover, the SF-36 Bodily Pain Scale provides a brief measure of pain intensity and pain interference with activities. Health-related work disability should include at a minimum a measure of work status and work-time loss. For those who are still at work, new measures are being developed to measure health-related work limitations. No single measure of patient satisfaction is clearly preferred but guiding principles are provided to choose among available measures. In addition to the five recommended domains, preference-based health outcome measures, including patients utilities, may be useful when there is a need to value alternative health outcomes.

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