Tracking patient-reported outcomes in spinal disorders

Nikhil R. Nayak, John Mitchell Coats, Kalil G. Abdullah, Sherman C. Stein, Neil R. Malhotra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) quantify health status from the patient's point of view. While the number of published outcomes studies grows each year, so too has the number of instruments being reported, leading to confusion on which instruments are appropriate to use for various spinal conditions. Methods: A broad search was conducted to identify commonly used PROMs in patients undergoing spinal surgery. We searched PubMed for combinations of terms related to anatomic location and a measure of patient-reported outcome in the title or text. We supplemented the search using the "related articles" feature of PubMed and by manually searching the bibliographies of selected articles. Results: Major categories of PROMs in spine surgery include health-related quality-of-life, pain, and disease-specific disability, for which several different instrument options were identified and detailed. The minimal clinically important difference varies between instruments and differentiates statistical significance from clinical significance. In addition, the accurate estimation of costs has become a challenging but intrinsically linked variable to outcomes as increased attention is paid to the relative value of surgical interventions. Conclusion: While a number of PROMs are available for tracking outcomes in spine surgery, only a handful appear to be widely used. At least one instrument from each category should be measured pre- and post-operatively to quantify treatment effect. In addition, while the primary goal is to select the most appropriate instruments for the patient's condition, one should keep in mind sustainability of efforts with regard to patient and administrative burden.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S490-S499
JournalSurgical Neurology International
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Comparative-effectiveness
  • cost-effectiveness
  • patient-reported outcomes
  • quality-of-life
  • spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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