A consensus approach toward the standardization of spinal stiffness measurement using a loaded rolling wheel device: results of a Delphi study

Maliheh Hadizadeh, Greg Kawchuk*, Simon French

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    6 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: Spinal stiffness assessment has the potential to become an important clinical measure. Various spinal stiffness-testing devices are available to help researchers objectively evaluate the spine and patient complaints. One of these is VerteTrack, a device capable of measuring posteroanterior displacement values over an entire spinal region. This study aimed to develop a best-practice protocol for evaluating spinal stiffness in human participants using VerteTrack.

    Methods: Twenty-five individuals with research experience in measuring spinal stiffness, or who were trained in spinal stiffness measurement using the VerteTrack device, were invited to participate in this 3-Round Delphi study. Answers to open-ended questions in Round 1 were thematically analyzed and translated into statements about VerteTrack operation for spinal stiffness measurements. Participants then rated their level of agreement with these statements using a 5-point Likert scale in Rounds 2 and 3. A descriptive statistical analysis was performed. Consensus was achieved when at least 70% of the participants either strongly agreed, agreed, (or strongly disagreed, disagreed) to include a statement in the final protocol.

    Results: Twenty participants completed Round 1 (80%). All these participants completed Rounds 2 and 3. In total, the pre-defined consensus threshold was reached for 67.2% (123/183) of statements after three rounds of surveys. From this, a best-practice protocol was created.

    Conclusions: Using a Delphi approach, a consensus-based protocol for measuring spinal stiffness using the VerteTrack was developed. This standard protocol will help to improve the accuracy, efficiency, and safety of spinal stiffness measurements, facilitate the training of new operators, increase consistency of these measurements in multicenter studies, and provide the synergy and potential for data comparison between spine studies internationally. Although specific to VerteTrack, the resulting standard protocol could be modified for use with other devices designed to collect spinal stiffness measures.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number436
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Spinal stiffness
    • Mechanical instruments
    • Spinal pain
    • VerteTrack
    • Delphi


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