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IMPORTANCE: Many site-specific, multivariable risk models for predicting the outcome of musculoskeletal pain problems have been published. The overlapping content in these models suggests a common set of generic indicators suitable for use in primary care. OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether a brief set of generic prognostic indicators can predict the outcome of musculoskeletal pain in older patients presenting to general practitioners. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A prospective observational cohort study conducted from September 1, 2006, through March 31, 2007, of consecutive patients 50 years or older presenting with noninflammatory musculoskeletal pain to 1 of the 5 participating general practices in the United Kingdom. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: During consultation, the treating physician assessed and recorded 5 brief generic items (duration of present pain episode, current pain intensity, pain interference with daily activities, presence of multiple-site pain, and ultrashort depression screen) and recorded their overall prognostic judgment. The primary outcome was patient-rated improvement, which was measured 6 months after consultation and cross-validated with repeated measures up to 3 years. RESULTS: A total of 194 (48.1%) of 403 participants were classified as having an unfavorable outcome at 6 months. Inclusion of 3 generic prognostic indicators (duration of present pain episode, pain interference with daily activities, and presence of multiple-site pain) in the prognostic model improved on reliance on physicians' prognostic judgment alone (C statistic = 0.72 vs 0.62; net reclassification index = 0.136; proportion correctly classified = 69%). The improvement in prognostic accuracy was attributable to correcting physicians' tendency toward overoptimistic expectations of outcome. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Three easy-to-obtain pieces of information followed by systematic recording of the general practitioners' prognostic judgment provide a simple generic assessment of prognosis at point of care in older persons presenting with musculoskeletal problems to primary care practices in the United Kingdom. Such an assessment offers a common foundation for investigating the usefulness of prognostic stratification for guiding management in the consultation across a range of common painful conditions.

Original publication

DOI

10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.962

Type

Journal article

Journal

Jama intern med

Publication Date

24/06/2013

Volume

173

Pages

1119 - 1125

Keywords

Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Aging, Cohort Studies, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Musculoskeletal Pain, Point-of-Care Systems, Prognosis, Prospective Studies, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, Severity of Illness Index, Surveys and Questionnaires, United Kingdom