The predictive ability of the STarT Back Tool was limited in people with chronic low back pain

In people with chronic non-specific low back pain (LBP), what is the predictive and discriminative validity of the STarT Back Tool (SBT) for pain intensity, self-reported LBP-related disability, and global self-perceived change at 1-year follow-up? What is the profile of the SBT risk subgroups with respect to demographic variables, pain intensity, self-reported LBP-related disability, and psychological measures?

A total of 290 adults with dominant axial LBP of ≥ 3 months’ duration recruited from the general community, and private physiotherapy, psychology, and pain-management clinics in Western Australia.

Outcomes were collected on 264 participants. The SBT categorised 82 participants (28%) as low risk, 116 (40%) as medium risk, and 92 (32%) as high risk. The risk subgroups differed significantly (p < 0.05) on baseline pain, disability, and psychological scores. The SBT’s predictive ability was strongest for disability: RR was 2.30 (95% CI 1.28 to 4.10) in the medium-risk group and 2.86 (95% CI 1.60 to 5.11) in the high-risk group. The SBT’s predictive ability was weaker for pain: RR was 1.25 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.51) in the medium-risk group and 1.26 (95% CI 1.03 to 1.52) in the high-risk group. For the SBT total score, the AUC was 0.71 (95% CI 0.64 to 0.77) for disability and 0.63 (95% CI 0.55 to 0.71) for pain.

This was the first large study to investigate the SBT in a population exclusively with chronic LBP. The SBT provided an acceptable indication of 1-year disability, had poor predictive and discriminative ability for future pain, and was unable to predict or discriminate global perceived change. In this cohort with chronic non-specific LBP, the SBT’s predictive and discriminative abilities were restricted to disability at 1 year.

Stratified Care for Low Back Pain

In this short online course review and learn to apply the stratified care for low back pain and Patient Prognosis Subgrouping using the STarT Back approach.

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