Effects of multidisciplinary pain treatment can be predicted without elaborate questionnaires

Low back pain is one of the most frequent and costly diseases of Western societies. Psychosocial factors such as low social status, depression, or work dissatisfaction are known to promote chronicity of low back pain. With a multidisciplinary approach, better outcomes can be achieved than with purely biomedical treatment. Optimal patient selection for multidisciplinary therapy reduces costs and labour. This study investigated whether elaborated questionnaires go beyond simple items in predicting multimodal therapy success. In this prospective longitudinal clinical study, 330 patients were followed up for six months after multidisciplinary therapy. The patient questionnaire Heidelberg Short Early Risk Assessment Questionnaire for the Prediction of Chronicity in Low Back Pain (HKF-R10) that is approved and established for predicting chronicity in patients with acute low back pain to forecast the therapeutic outcome was applied. Outcome criteria were QOL, pain reduction and back to work. With regard to outcome criteria, the HKF-R10 was unable to anticipate therapeutic success, but education level, depression, best pain condition, and helplessness predicted therapy success with an 80% probability for QOL improvement.

It is not necessary to confront patients with an extensive and complicated questionnaire to predict the outcome of multidisciplinary therapy. In fact, assessing a few specific items allows better and simpler prognosis estimation.