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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2007 Jan;46(1):169-76. Epub 2006 Jun 24.

Prognostic indicators for non-recovery of non-traumatic complaints at arm, neck and shoulder in general practice--6 months follow-up.

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Department of General Practice, Room Ff 320, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



To identify predictors of non-recovery in non-traumatic complaints at the arm, neck and shoulder in general practice 6 months after the first consultation.


A prospective cohort study was set in 21 Dutch general practices. Consulters with a first or new episode of non-traumatic arm, neck or shoulder complaints and age 18 through 64 yrs entered the cohort. Complaint, patient, physical, psychosocial and work characteristics were investigated as possible predictors of non-recovery at 6 months using multiple logistic regression analyses (backward Wald).


At 6 months, 46% of the total population (n = 612) and 42% of the working subpopulation (n = 473) still reported complaints. Complaint characteristics (long duration of the complaint before consultation, recurrent complaint, musculoskeletal comorbidity and complaint mainly located at wrist or hand) were most predictive of non-recovery followed by psychosocial characteristics (more somatization and experiencing less social support). Having a specific diagnosis was associated with recovery. In the working subpopulation, the same variables were predictors of non-recovery. Additionally, low supervisory support was associated with non-recovery. The models correctly classified 72-75% of the patients (explained variance 0.27-0.28).


Besides questions on complaint characteristics, information on somatization and support can help a general practitioner to recognize patients at risk of persistent complaints.

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