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OBJECTIVES: The aim of this literature review was to synthesise and report current practice in evaluation and reporting of scar outcomes in hand and wrist clinical research. METHODS: A systematic search from inception to 2022 was conducted using three electronic databases. English language randomized controlled trials and observational cohort studies reporting standardised scar outcome measures and/or scar symptoms, appearance, impairment, function, or mental health outcomes in patients with hand and wrist scars were included. Two independent reviewers determined study eligibility and performed data extraction of a priori identified scar outcome domains. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and identification of discordance in taxonomy. RESULTS: Fifty-nine studies were included. Elective surgery cohorts were the most frequently included clinical population (n = 28; 47%) followed by burns (n = 16; 27%). Six different standardised scar outcome measures were reported by 25% of studies however only 7% of studies utilised a patient-reported measure. Scar symptoms were the most frequently reported outcome domain (81%); but taxonomy was incongruous, constructs lacked working definitions required for generalisability and outcome measurement was variable and unreported. Nineteen different measures of scar appearance and structure were reported by 30 (51%) of studies however only nine (23%) were patient-reported. Seven different hand function PROMs were reported by 25 (43%) studies. Person-centred domains including scar acceptability (12%), mental health impact (5%), and social participation (4%) were rarely reported. CONCLUSIONS: This review highlights that evaluation and reporting of hand and wrist scar outcomes is not standardised, assessment methods and measures are under-reported and there is discordance in taxonomy. Evaluation is not person-centred, rather it is dependent on clinician assessment. Domains including scar acceptability, mental health, and social participation are rarely addressed. A stakeholder consensus derived hand and wrist scar core outcome measurement set will promote standardisation and underpin improvements in clinical research quality, transparency, and rigour.

Original publication




Journal article


Bmc musculoskelet disord

Publication Date





Appearance, Hypersensitivity, Outcome measure, Pain, Psychological, Scar, Humans, Cicatrix, Wrist, Mental Health, Upper Extremity, Hand