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Chiropractic Research Review

The Reliability of LBP Measurement Tools

There are many methods to assess low back pain (LBP), but are they all equally reliable? The objective of this study was to establish the reliability (the ability of a tool to give similar results each time it is used) of selected LBP-related measurement tools.

Over two weeks, 151 LBP patients were tested and retested on the degree of suffering they experienced, with an interval between tests of 2-14 days.

The LBP outcome measures evaluated were:

* The Modified Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (MRMQ);

* Modified pain symptoms frequency and bothersome indices;

* Verbal pain severity scale;

* Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire (FABQ);

* Work satisfaction scale; and

* The Baecke Physical Activity Questionnaire (BPAQ).

The results showed that all of the measurement tools in the study were reliable and consistent.

All of these tools can therefore be used to accurately gauge LBP. The authors pointed out that the simple verbal pain severity scale can be only moderately accurate, and suggested adding a numeric pain scale to the future questionnaire. Also interesting to note is that this study was conducted in Israel, necessitating the translation of these common outcome measures into Hebrew.

The authors also said that multiple tools should be used to evaluate LBP: "...the insufficient correlation between different outcome measures supports the assumption that a complex condition such as LBP should be evaluated with different measurement tools."

Note: The importance of this study is that it demonstrates the effectiveness of using inexpensive outcome measures to track low back pain. Sometimes obtaining such tools in languages other than English is difficult; this study may be a resource for doctors working with patients who speak Hebrew.

Jacob T, Baras M, Zeev A, et al. Low back pain: Reliability of a set of pain measurement tools. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation June 2001:82, pp. 735-742.

Chiropractic Research Review

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