Standardized measurement of recovery from nonspecific back pain

Julia M. Hush*, Steven J. Kamper, Tasha R. Stanton, Raymond Ostelo, Kathryn M. Refshauge

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: To propose standardized, patient-centered measures of recovery from nonspecific low back pain (LBP) in research, underpinned by an empirically derived concept of recovery and informed by expert opinion. Design: Synthesis of literature reviews and expert panel opinion. Setting: Primary care centers for the management of nonspecific LBP. Participants: Persons with nonspecific LBP. Interventions: Conservative treatments for nonspecific LBP. Main Outcome Measures: Three phases of research were conducted. First, qualitative research that explored patients' perspectives of recovery from nonspecific LBP was reviewed. Second, measures of recovery used in LBP clinical trials during the past decade were investigated in a systematic review. Third, opinion was sought from an expert panel of clinicians and researchers about how to measure recovery from nonspecific LBP, in a workshop at the 10th International Forum for Primary Care Research in Low Back Pain. Results: An empirically derived and patient-centered concept of recovery from nonspecific LBP was developed from the qualitative research phase. The systematic review conducted in the second study phase revealed that researchers have used vastly heterogeneous measures of LBP recovery in clinical trials during the past decade. Finally, the key conclusions of the LBP Forum workshop were (1) that appropriate patient-centered instruments to measure recovery include global measures and patient-specific measures; and (2) that the benefits of implementing the same recovery measures for acute and chronic LBP outweigh the disadvantages of using different measures. Conclusions: The results were synthesized to inform our recommendation that researchers consider adopting 2 instruments as standardized measures of recovery from nonspecific LBP, as an adjunct to the existing core set of LBP outcome measures. These instruments are an 11-point Global Back Recovery Scale, for a simple measure of global recovery, and the Patient-Generated Index of Quality of Life-Back Pain, to evaluate specific relevant dimensions of recovery. This recommendation has majority endorsement by members of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Acute Low Back Pain Review Group.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)849-855
    Number of pages7
    JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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