Content » Vol 39, Issue 5

ICF core sets for low back pain: Do they include what matters to patients?

Ricky Mullis, Julie Barber, Martyn Lewis and Elaine Hay
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0059


Objective: To investigate whether the International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) Core Sets for low back pain encompass the key functional problems of patients.
Design: Cross-sectional evaluation of patient-centred problems with low back pain.
Subjects: A total of 402 patients living in the UK recruited into a randomized clinical trial.
Methods: Patients with acute or subacute low back pain were asked to identify: (i) the one thing they find most difficult to do, and (ii) something they usually enjoyed but were unable to do because of their back pain. Two raters classified responses according to the ICF. Inter-rater agreement was measured using the kappa statistic. The response categories were examined for inclusion within the Core Sets.
Results: For question (i) above, agreement between raters was 323/397 (81%), kappa (95% confidence interval (95% CI)) = 0. 78 (0. 73–0. 82). A total of 329 (83%) fell within the ICF Brief Core Set; all except 3 were contained within the Comprehensive Core Set. For question (ii) agreement was 290/312 (93%), kappa (95% CI) = 0. 91 (0. 87–0. 95). Only 54 (17%) of these fell within the Brief Core Set; the 2 most chosen categories (recreation and leisure: d920; caring for household objects: d650) accounted for 70% of responses, and were not included. All except 2 responses were encompassed by the Comprehensive Core Set.
Conclusion: Addition of codes d920 and d650 to the low back pain Brief Core Set would significantly increase the inclusion rate in this cohort.

Lay Abstract


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