Utilization of a Wide Array of Nonvalidated Outcome Scales in Pediatric Orthopaedic Publications: Can’t We All Measure the Same Thing?

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Purpose:Clinical changes are best evaluated with standardized, validated outcomes, including both patient-reported outcome measures and surgeon-reported outcome measures (PROMs and SROMs). The purpose of this study was to describe the spectrum of outcome measures used in pediatric orthopaedic publications over the past 10 years and to determine the proportion that are in fact age-appropriate, validated, and appropriately applied in terms of condition and population.Methods:The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, The Bone and Joint Journal, Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics A and B, and Journal of Children’s Orthopaedics were systematically searched for studies including children aged 18 and below, over a 10-year period from January 2005 to December 2014. Economic evaluations, letters, editorials, review articles, and clinical guidelines were excluded. SROMs and PROMs used were extracted, as were details on subject age and condition for which they were used. Each outcome scale was assessed for validity, and the proportion of scales used appropriately was calculated. Cochrane-Armitage test of trend was used to determine changes in PROM and SROM utilization over the study period.Results:A total of 4614 articles were identified, of which 2251 met inclusion and exclusion criteria. In total, 259 (11.5%) of studies used a PROM, whereas 326 (14.5%) used a SROM. A total of 230 different outcome scales were identified; 115 were patient reported and 115 were surgeon reported. However, only 18.7% of SROMs and 38.3% of PROMs were applied to an age and disease-appropriate demographic. Overall, there was a significant increase in the overall utilization of PROMs during the study period (P=0.004), but no corresponding increase in pediatric-validated PROMs (P=0.164). SROM utilization did not significantly change over the study period (P=0.337).Conclusions:Within the field of pediatric orthopaedics, an expansive variety of outcome scales are used, many of which have not been validated in children. Improved uniformity in reporting of outcomes and use of disease and age-validated outcomes scales is essential to improve multicenter research collaboration and data quality to generate appropriate evidence-based conclusions and treatment strategies in pediatric orthopaedics.Level of Evidence:Level IV—systematic review.

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