Prognostic accuracy of clinicians for back, neck and shoulder patients in routine practice
Background: Chronicity amongst musculoskeletal patients remains a considerable burden and predicting outcomes in these patients has proven difficult. Although a large number of studies have investigated a range of predictors of outcome few have looked at the practitioners’ ability to discern those that improve from those most likely to fail to improve. This study aimed to investigate the ability of chiropractors to predict patient outcomes. Methods: Prediction and outcome data were collected from 440 consecutive patients with back, neck or shoulder pain accepted for chiropractic care within 5 linked private practices. Predictions by chiropractors were compared to patient outcomes as measured by Bournemouth Questionnaire (BQ) scores, pain NRS scores and patient global impression of change (PGIC) collected at 4 and 12 weeks following the initial consultation. Results: Overall, chiropractors appear unable to accurately predict poor outcomes in their patients particularly in the longer term. Although some conditions (neck) faired a little better in some cases with some trends in short term pain scores being associated with the clinicians prediction, this was marginal. Subgrouping by practitioners or duration did not improve the performance of these predictions Conclusions: Chiropractors generally fail to reliably predict poor treatment outcome of patients at initial consultation.