Measures in Chiropractic Research: Choosing Patient-Based Outcome Assessments

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Abstract

Objective:

Outcome assessment normally used in research can support the therapeutic process by tracking patient symptoms and function and offering a common language to clinicians and researchers. This study's objectives were to (1) identify patient-based outcomes assessments used in published chiropractic studies, (2) describe a framework for identifying appropriate sets of measures, and (3) address the challenges associated with these measures relevant to chiropractic.

Methods:

This literature review identified and evaluated the most commonly used to outcome measures in chiropractic research. Instruments were evaluated in terms of feasibility, practicality, economy, reliability, validity, and responsiveness to clinical change. A search of PubMed and Index to Chiropractic Literature (from inception to June 2006) was performed.

Results:

A total of 1166 citations were identified. Of these, 629 were selected as relevant. The most common patient-based outcomes assessments instruments identified were the Oswestry Pain/Disability Index, Visual Analog Scale, and Short Form 36.

Conclusions:

The integration of outcome measures is consistent with current national initiatives to enhance health care quality through performance measurement and can also be used to further the field of chiropractic health care research. Outcome measures are both a research tool and a means by which providers can consistently measure health care quality. Based upon this review, there is a wide range of outcome measures available for use in chiropractic care. Those most commonly cited in the literature are the numeric rating scale, Visual Analog Scale, Oswestry Pain/Disability Index, Roland-Morris Low Back Pain and Disability Questionnaire, and Short Form 36.

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