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Eur Spine J. 2010 Sep;19(9):1527-33. doi: 10.1007/s00586-010-1429-3. Epub 2010 May 21.

Perceived functional ability assessed with the spinal function sort: is it valid for European rehabilitation settings in patients with non-specific non-acute low back pain?

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Research Department, Rehabilitation Centre Valens, Valens, Switzerland.


The aim of this study involving 170 patients suffering from non-specific low back pain was to test the validity of the spinal function sort (SFS) in a European rehabilitation setting. The SFS, a picture-based questionnaire, assesses perceived functional ability of work tasks involving the spine. All measurements were taken by a blinded research assistant; work status was assessed with questionnaires. Our study demonstrated a high internal consistency shown by a Cronbach's alpha of 0.98, reasonable evidence for unidimensionality, spearman correlations of >0.6 with work activities, and discriminating power for work status at 3 and 12 months by ROC curve analysis (area under curve = 0.760 (95% CI 0.689-0.822), respectively, 0.801 (95% CI 0.731-0.859). The standardised response mean within the two treatment groups was 0.18 and -0.31. As a result, we conclude that the perceived functional ability for work tasks can be validly assessed with the SFS in a European rehabilitation setting in patients with non-specific low back pain, and is predictive for future work status.

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