Background: Activities and their importance for daily living vary widely between patients. Patient-specific measurement of functional status means that the evaluation is focused on activities that an individual patient selected as main complaints.
Objective: To develop and to evaluate a patient-specific approach for measuring functional status in low back pain.
Study design: A cohort of 150 patients was measured at baseline and 12 weeks later.
Methods: The feasibility of the patient-specific approach was evaluated in patients with nonspecific low back pain. We used effect size statistics to evaluate responsiveness in terms of sensitivity to change and specificity to change.
Results: The selection procedure for the main complaint was feasible but labor intensive. The patient-specific approach was able to detect changes in complaints that were highly relevant for the patients. The patient-specific approach appeared to be more sensitive to change but less specific to change compared with other instruments.
Conclusions: On the basis of this study it would be valuable to apply the patient-specific approach in future studies, also with the aim of further evaluation. In the meantime a number of practical problems of the method need to be resolved.