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Chiropractic Research Review

Still Going Strong: The Oswestry Disability Index

The measurement of disability is an important aspect of managing patients with back pain. Self-report questionnaires have demonstrated better outcomes than some "objective" measures, such as range of motion or measures of functional capacity, in adequately assessing spinal disability.



The Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) is one of the most frequently recommended condition-specific outcome measures for evaluating spinal dysfunction. This article reviews published research pertaining to the ODI using citations identified from the authors' personal databases, the Science Citation Index, and hand searches of Spine and other current publications relevant to spinal disorders.

The following results are presented in more detail in the full text of the paper. Four different versions of the ODI have been published and are used in practice; the authors recommend the use of version 2, available in this paper. The ODI is available in 11 different languages, including Spanish. The standard scoring system should be used for the recommended version. There has been some confusion by chiropractors on the use of the ODI for rating disability as compared to impairment. Investigations of the ODI have shown that it is valid and reliable.

Conclusions: The authors note that the ODI remains a "valid and vigorous measure of condition-specific disability" over time and after numerous clinical reviews. Its utility spans a wide variety of applications as an outcome measure for spinal disability. It is suggested that additional study be performed on the ODI's ability to detect meaningful changes in disability status, including the response to change in individual patients with specific spinal conditions.

Fairbank JCT, Pynsent PB. The Oswestry Disability Index. Spine 2000:25(22), pp2940-53.

Chiropractic Research Review

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