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A retrospective cohort study.In this article, we examined the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial lumbar stenosis observational cohort to determine baseline patient characteristics that are predictive of the treatment patients chose. We also evaluated cutoff points on validated patient questionnaires that differentiate patients who chose surgery from those who chose nonsurgical management.Although the evidence from current studies suggests that surgical intervention is effective for lumbar spinal stenosis, the same studies show that nonoperative patients also improve. Thus, the reasons for patients choosing surgery versus nonoperative care are of continuing interest.Baseline patient and clinical characteristics between those who received operative intervention and those who received nonoperative care were compared to determine baseline predictors of lumbar spinal stenosis management. Also, an evaluation of responses to the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey Bodily Pain (BP), 36-Item Short Form Health Survey Physical Function (PF), and the modified Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) questionnaires was performed to determine the percentage of patients choosing surgical versus nonoperative care relative to their initial questionnaire values.This analysis looked at the 356 patients in the observational spinal stenosis cohort of Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial who completed at least 1 follow-up visit. Patients choosing surgery were younger (P = 0.022), had worse BP (P < 0.001), worse PF (P < 0.001), worse ODI (P < 0.001), worse Stenosis Bothersomeness Index (P < 0.001), were dissatisfied with their symptoms (P = 0.001), and had a worse self-assessed health trend (P < 0.001). Patients tended to choose surgery if they had lateral recess stenosis (P = 0.022). Kaplan-Meier curves demonstrate that patients with a BP score of 32 or less, PF score of 30 or less, and ODI greater than 29 chose surgery 75% of the time.A greater understanding of baseline characteristics that influence patient choices in the treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis can aid the patient and the surgeon during the shared decision-making process.