There is limited data on the cost-utility of low-back surgical procedures. The EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D) is a generic health-related quality of life (HRQL) instrument, which was designed for cost-utility analyses and for comparisons of therapeutic effects across different diseases. Disease-specific (HRQL) instruments cannot be used for such purposes. However, there is little evidence of the usefulness of the EQ-5D in the field of low-back surgery, and it might be too general to assess specific conditions. We therefore tested its validity and responsiveness against a widely used disease-specific HRQL instrument [the Oswestry disability index (ODI)], in a prospective study on 326 patients operated for degenerative disorders in the lumbar spine. The reliability of the EQ-5D was also evaluated. Follow-up time was 12 months. Cross-sectional construct validity of the EQ-5D and ODI in the assessments of pain, functional status, health state and employment status were equal. The ODI performed better only in the assessment of walking capability. Only small differences in responsiveness were found. The reliability of the EQ-5D was solid. Our results indicate that the EQ-5D is useful for estimating health state values and for monitoring outcome of patients undergoing low-back surgery. Hence, this instrument would provide valid data for cost-utility analyses.
- Health-related quality of life
- Lumbar spine