Normative Values of the Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire for Patients with and without Hand Conditions

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The Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire has been widely used for nearly 20 years to assess patients with a variety of hand and upper extremity conditions. However, normative data have not previously been collected, limiting interpretation.


The Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire was administered to 579 participants recruited from the general population. In addition, participants were asked to identify any problem affecting their hand(s), including trauma, hand disease/condition, systemic illness, or nonspecific symptoms. Comorbidities and demographic data were also collected.


Total Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire score for healthy individuals was indicative of generally good hand function (95.2; 95 percent CI, 94.3 to 96.1). Individuals with unilateral trauma scored for their affected hand (90.3; 95 percent CI, 87.9 to 92.6) lower than their healthy hand (mean difference, 5.7; 95 percent CI, 3.2 to 8.3). For individuals with and without hand trauma, total Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire score decreased with increasing number of comorbidities. Many of the differences in Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire score between the problem hand and unaffected hand were smaller than the minimal clinically important difference of 3.0 to 23.0 for known abnormalities of the hand and upper extremity.


These normative data provide appropriate baseline information for individuals with and without underlying hand conditions. Most notably, these findings suggest that individuals with a unilateral problem establish new subnormative values for both their affected and unaffected hands. These data will encourage an appropriate understanding of the results of future studies using the Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire.

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