Study design: Reanalysis of data from 3 randomized controlled trials.
Objective: Development and validation of a prediction rule that estimates the probability of complaints persisting for at least 6 months in patients presenting with nonspecific neck pain in primary care.
Summary of background data: A substantial proportion of the neck pain patients will develop chronic neck pain. An important question is whether we can identify patients at risk of persistent complaints at the first consultation with the physician, based on their personal characteristics? A prediction model that quantifies prognosis in patients with nonspecific neck pain is not available.
Methods: The study population consisted of a sample (n = 468) from the adult primary care population (18-70 years) in The Netherlands presenting with nonspecific neck pain. The primary outcome measure was global perceived recovery measured at 6 months of follow-up. Seventeen baseline characteristics of the patients were included in the analysis. Significant predictors were identified by multivariable backward stepwise logistic regression analysis. A score chart was constructed by using the regression coefficient estimates. The score chart was externally validated in a cohort of patients with nonspecific neck pain (n = 315), who participated in a randomized controlled trial in the United Kingdom (PANTHER-trial).
Results: The multivariable analysis resulted in a set of 9 predictors. The score chart has a discriminative ability of 0.66. External validation of the score chart showed a discriminative ability of 0.65, an adequate calibration, a good fit, and a low explained variation.
Conclusion: We developed a score chart, estimating the probability of persistent complaints at 6 months follow-up for patients with nonspecific neck pain. This chart performed well in the study population and external validation population. The prediction which patients are more likely to develop persistent complaints is significantly improved by the score chart.