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The Back Disability Risk Questionnaire for Work-Related, Acute Back Pain: Prediction of Unresolved Problems at 3-Month Follow-Up

Shaw, William S. PhD; Pransky, Glenn MD, MOccH; Winters, Thomas MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 2 - p 185-194
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318192bcf8
Original Articles

Objective: To assess the validity of the Back Disability Risk Questionnaire (BDRQ) to predict developing chronic back disability.

Methods: Five hundred nineteen working adults (67% male) seeking outpatient care for acute, work-related back pain (≤14 days) completed the BDRQ. After the initial medical evaluation, clinicians provided prognostic impressions in a 10-item questionnaire. Pain, functional limitation, and work status were assessed at 3-month follow-up.

Results: In multivariate analyses, the presence of persistent pain, functional limitation, or impaired work status (31.4%) was predicted by six BDRQ questions: injury type, work absence preceding medical evaluation, job tenure, prior back surgery, worries about re-injury, expectation for early return-to-work, and stress. Classification accuracy at 3 months was 76.3%. Initial clinician impressions showed no multivariate associations with outcomes.

Conclusions: The BDRQ may provide prognostic information not observed in a routine medical evaluation for acute BP.

From the Liberty Mutual Center for Disability Research (Dr Shaw, Dr Pransky), Hopkinton; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (Dr Shaw, Dr Pransky), University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester; and Occupational & Environmental Health Network (Dr Winters), Waltham, Mass.

Address correspondence to: William S. Shaw, PhD, Liberty Mutual Center for Disability Research, 71 Frankland Road, Hopkinton, MA 01748; E-mail:

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine