OBJECTIVES: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) but its use in clinical practice is sparse. This study investigated the limitations and restrictions in the most relevant brief ICF core set categories for chronic low back pain (cLBP) as automatically predicted from routinely measured outcomes using a novel, validated mapping algorithm.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Of 2718 cLBP patients recruited, data from 1541 (64% females) were available from before and at the end of 6 months comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation. Assessments included the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) and Pain Disability Index (PDI) questionnaires, the percentage of patients with predicted limitations and restrictions in important activity and participation ICF categories, bodily functional measurements, pain intensity, and anxiety/depression (EQ-5D).
RESULTS: At baseline, both the RMDQ and the PDI measures were within the third of the lowest disability scores whilst 80% of the patients had limitations with "maintaining a body position" and 30% with "walking" ICF categories. Intervention-associated gains in the maximum isometric lumbar extension and flexion strength and the lumbar range of motion were significant overall, but improvements in patients' ICF limitations/restrictions varied. Anxiety/depression, lumbar range of motion, and extension strength all had a significant impact on the majority of the ICF categories, whereas flexion strength had none.
DISCUSSION: The rate of patients with predicted limitations/restrictions in activity/participation ICF core categories for cLBP partly mirrored disability levels and the impact of the body function scores on these limitations/restrictions in ICF categories was varied. Thus, assessing problems in the ICF activity/participation core categories is of relevance to clinical practice for both treatment goal setting and intervention planning. This may be achieved by computer-generated mapping without additional time burden.