Perceived relative importance of pain-related functions among patients with low back pain
Carita Kemppi, Katri Laimi, Jouko J. Salminen, Risto Tuominen
Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the functional status of patients with low back pain and the perceived importance of pain-related everyday functions assessed in the Oswestry Disability Index.
Design: The sample was based on 219 successive adult patients with low back pain referred to a tertiary clinic.
Patients: A total of 168 patients (76.6%) participated in the study, mean age 48.2 years (standard deviation 11.6).
Methods: In a questionnaire the patients were asked to complete the Oswestry Disability Index and the same domains using visual analogue scales. Subjects were also asked to assess the relative importance of these domains by using a visual analogue scale.
Results: Sleeping, walking and personal care were the 3 most important functions for both men and women. Patients with low back pain gave more importance to most of the functional abilities that are needed in everyday life and self-management than to the intensity of pain. However, when the patients reported their current experience in functions, greatest difficulty was experienced in lifting.
Conclusion: Development of outcome measure instruments for patients with low back pain could benefit from taking into account patients’ perceptions. In addition, functional measures should be weighted according to the relative importance of each function to the patients.
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