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J Neurosurg Spine. 2012 Nov;17(5):486-90. doi: 10.3171/2012.8.SPINE12614. Epub 2012 Sep 21.

Changes in the Oswestry Disability Index that predict improvement after lumbar fusion.

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Norton Leatherman Spine Center, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, USA.



Clinical studies use both disease-specific and generic health outcomes measures. Disease-specific measures focus on health domains most relevant to the clinical population, while generic measures assess overall health-related quality of life. There is little information about which domains of the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) are most important in determining improvement in overall health-related quality of life, as measured by the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36), after lumbar spinal fusion. The objective of the study is to determine which clinical elements assessed by the ODI most influence improvement of overall health-related quality of life.


A single tertiary spine center database was used to identify patients undergoing lumbar fusion for standard degenerative indications. Patients with complete preoperative and 2-year outcomes measures were included. Pearson correlation was used to assess the relationship between improvement in each item of the ODI with improvement in the SF-36 physical component summary (PCS) score, as well as achievement of the SF-36 PCS minimum clinically important difference (MCID). Multivariate regression modeling was used to examine which items of the ODI best predicted achievement for the SF-36 PCS MCID. The effect size and standardized response mean were calculated for each of the items of the ODI.


A total of 1104 patients met inclusion criteria (674 female and 430 male patients). The mean age at surgery was 57 years. All items of the ODI showed significant correlations with the change in SF-36 PCS score and achievement of MCID for the SF-36 PCS, but only pain intensity, walking, and social life had r values > 0.4 reflecting moderate correlation. These 3 variables were also the dimensions that were independent predictors of the SF-36 PCS, and they were the only dimensions that had effect sizes and standardized response means that were moderate to large.


Of the health dimensions measured by the ODI, pain intensity, walking, and social life best predicted improvement in overall health-related quality of life, as measured using the SF-36 PCS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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