Development of a German version of the Oswestry Disability Index. Part 1: cross-cultural adaptation, reliability, and validity

Eur Spine J. 2006 Jan;15(1):55-65. doi: 10.1007/s00586-004-0815-0. Epub 2005 Apr 26.


Patient-orientated assessment methods are of paramount importance in the evaluation of treatment outcome. The Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) is one of the condition-specific questionnaires recommended for use with back pain patients. To date, no German version has been published in the peer-reviewed literature. A cross-cultural adaptation of the ODI for the German language was carried out, according to established guidelines. One hundred patients with chronic low-back pain (35 conservative, 65 surgical) completed a questionnaire booklet containing the newly translated ODI, along with a 0-10 pain visual analogue scale (VAS), the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire, and Likert scales for disability, medication intake and pain frequency [to assess ODI's construct (convergent) validity]. Thirty-nine of these patients completed a second questionnaire within 2 weeks (to assess test-retest reliability). The intraclass correlation coefficient for the test-retest reliability of the questionnaire was 0.96. In test-retest, 74% of the individual questions were answered identically, and 21% just one grade higher or lower. The standard error of measurement (SEM) was 3.4, giving a "minimum detectable change" (MDC(95%)) for the ODI of approximately 9 points, i.e. the minimum change in an individual's score required to be considered "real change" (with 95% confidence) over and above measurement error. The ODI scores correlated with VAS pain intensity (r = 0.78, P < 0.001) and Roland Morris scores (r = 0.80, P < 0.001). The mean baseline ODI scores differed significantly between the surgical and conservative patients (P < 0.001), and between the different categories of the Likert scales for disability, medication use and pain frequency (in each case P < 0.001). Our German version of the Oswestry questionnaire is reliable and valid, and shows psychometric characteristics as good as, if not better than, the original English version. It should represent a valuable tool for use in future patient-orientated outcome studies in German-speaking lands.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis*
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Translations*