The ability of the Acute Low Back Pain Screening Questionnaire to predict sick leave in patients with acute neck pain

Cees J Vos, Arianne P Verhagen, Bart W Koes
Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2009, 32 (3): 178-83

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the use of the Acute Low Back Pain Screening Questionnaire (ALBPSQ) in patients with acute neck pain in general practice. The ALBPSQ is a biopsychosocial screening questionnaire containing 20 items concerning mainly psychosocial variables. Although originally developed for patients with low back pain, it may also be applicable for patients with neck pain. We evaluated its reliability and determined an optimal cutoff point for predicting future sick leave.

METHODS: A prospective study was conducted on consecutive patients with acute neck pain in general practice with a follow-up period of 1 year. Reliability was determined by means of a test-retest procedure with a 1-week interval. The total number of days on sick leave was added up based on self-reported questionnaires.

RESULTS: One hundred eighty-seven patients were included in the study, of which 180 patients were included in the analysis. Almost half of the patients were better or much improved within the first week. Test-retest reliability was high (intraclass correlation coefficient, 0.85; 95% confidence interval, 0.73-0.92). Almost 40% of the patients reported sick leave because of neck pain during the follow-up period. An optimal cutoff score of 72 was calculated for predicting future sick leave, with a sensitivity of 77% and a specificity of 62%. The area under the curve of the receiver operator characteristics curve was regarded doubtful (0.66; 95% confidence interval, 0.56-0.76).

CONCLUSION: The ALBPSQ has shown to be a reliable instrument and potentially useful in a screening procedure for future sick leave in patients with acute neck pain in general practice.

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