Study Design. This prospective cohort study investigated personal goal achievement and satisfaction with progress in patients with chronic disabling spinal disorders (CDSD).
Objective. This study examined the relationships between satisfaction with progress and several alternative outcome measures for CDSD patients at least 1 year after completing a functional restoration program (FRP).
Summary of Background Data. Treatment outcome measures for CDSD commonly include pain, physical capacities, and functional/vocational status. These factors are weakly correlated and may not reflect individual patients’ perspectives and priorities.
Methods. On enrollment in the FRP, patients’ pretreatment functional, work, and recreation goals were recorded. Pre- and end-of-program clinical measures included: pain, disability, fear avoidance, lifting, trunk flexibility, and treadmill endurance. At least 1 year after program completion surveys were mailed to consecutive FRP graduates. Nonresponders were surveyed by telephone when possible. Surveys included each patient’s personal pretreatment goals, and assessed Average Pain, SF-36 Physical Function, and satisfaction “with the progress made with your pain problem.” Each patient indicated levels of importance and achievement for each personal goal, and these scores were integrated to yield a goal achievement score (GAS). Linear regression was used to test the relationships between 1-year satisfaction with progress and the following variables: baseline to end-of-program change in clinical measures, and 1-year pain, physical function, and GAS.
Results. Of the 106 surveys mailed, 89 (84%) were returned and 86 (81%) had complete data for analysis. None of the pre-post-program clinical measures was significantly correlated with satisfaction (overall R2 = 0.013, P < 0.74). In contrast, year-end Average Pain (R2 = 0.28), Physical Function (R2 = 0.29), and GAS (R2 = 0.29) were each significantly correlated (P < 0.0001) with satisfaction, with a combined R2 = 0.43, P < 0.0001. Of these variables, GAS had the highest unique contribution to satisfaction.
Conclusion. For CDSD patients 1 year after completing rehabilitation, compared to more traditional outcomes, GAS provided the greatest unique contribution to patient satisfaction. Goal achievement may be a valuable patient-centered measure of treatment outcome.