Problems in the assessment of outcome in a back pain clinic.
Fitzpatrick RM., Bury M., Frank AO., Donnelly T.
A sample of 72 patients attending the rheumatological back pain clinic of a district general hospital were interviewed at home, before their visit, about their expectations of the clinic. They also completed a Back Pain Disability Questionnaire. Fifty of the patients were recontacted by mail 3 months after their first clinic attendance and asked to complete the Back Pain Disability Questionnaire together with satisfaction questionnaires. Patients' reports, both with regard to expectations and satisfaction, particularly emphasized the importance of communication. One-third of the follow-up sample rated their clinic attendance as unhelpful, and although such views correlated with lack of improvement in pain and disability, other factors are involved in patients' evaluations. Significant correlations were obtained between subjective outcomes and health locus of control, social class and previous hospital treatment. Patient satisfaction may be a valuable measure of outcome in assessing the efficacy of back pain treatment.