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Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2019 Apr 11;17(1):57. doi: 10.1186/s12955-019-1137-6.

A head-to-head comparison of EQ-5D-5 L and SF-6D in Chinese patients with low back pain.

Author information

College of Business Administration, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, Shenyang, China.
College of Business Administration, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, Shenyang, China.
Department of orthopedics, The General Hospital of Shenyang Military Area Command, Shenyang, China.



The comparative performance of the 3-level EuroQol 5-dimension and Short Form 6-dimension (SF-6D) has been investigated in patients with low back pain (LBP). The aim of this study was to explore the performance including agreement, convergent validity as well as known-groups validity of the 5-level EuroQol 5-dimension (EQ-5D-5 L) and SF-6D in Chinese patients with LBP.


Individuals with LBP were recruited from a large tertiary hospital in China. All subjects were interviewed using a standardized questionnaire including the EQ-5D-5 L, 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36), the Oswestry questionnaire and socio-demographic questions from June 2017 to October 2017. Agreement was evaluated by intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) and Bland-Altman plots. Spearman's rank correlation coefficients were applied to assess convergent validity. For known-groups validity, the Mann-Whitney U test or Kruskal-Wallis H test were used, effect size (ES) and relative efficiency (RE) were also reported. The efficiency of detecting clinically relevant differences was measured by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves between pre-specified groups based on Oswestry disability index (ODI), ES and RE statistics were also reported.


Two hundred seventy-two LBP patients (age 38.1, 38% female) took part in the study. Agreement between the EQ-5D-5 L and the SF-6D was good (ICC 0.661) but with systematic discrepancy in the Bland-Altman plots. In terms of convergent validity, most priori assumptions were more related to EQ-5D-5 L than SF-6D, but MCS derived from SF-36 was more associated with SF-6D. EQ-5D-5 L demonstrated better performance for most groups except location and general health grouped by the general assessment of health item from SF-36. Furthermore, when we applied ODI as external indicator of health status, the area under the ROC curve for EQ-5D-5 L was larger than that for the SF-6D (0.892, 95% CI 0.853 to 0.931 versus 0.822, 95% CI 0.771 to 0.873), the effect size was 0.63 for EQ-5D-5 L and 0.44 for SF-6D, and it was proved that EQ-5D-5 L was 42% more efficient than SF-6D at detecting differences measured by ODI.


Both EQ-5D-5 L and SF-6D are valid measures for LBP patients. Even though these two measures had good agreement, they cannot be used interchangeably. The EQ-5D-5 L was superior to the SF-6D in Chinese low back pain patients in this research, with stronger correlation to ODI and better known-groups validity. Further study needs to evaluate other factors, such as responsiveness and reliability.


EQ-5D-5 L; Low back pain; SF-6D; The Oswestry questionnaire

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