Introduction: A hand and wrist disorder affects a patient's overall well-being and health-status. One concept serves as the foundation for all further consideration: in order to have confidence in your results when assessing patients with wrist and hand limitations, the clinician and researcher must choose standardised patient-oriented instruments that address the primary aims of the study. In this paper, we assess the quality of reviews published on patient oriented instruments in current use for assessing function of the hand and wrist joint. We highlight features of commonly used scales that improve readers' confidence in the choice and application of these outcome instruments.
Methods: A literature search (1950-January 2010) was performed using the MESH terms: hand (strength, injuries, joints) and wrist (injuries, joint) combined with outcome and process assessment (questionnaires, outcome assessment, health status indicators, quality of life). Titles and abstracts (n=341) were screened by two reviewers independently. The GRADE approach was used to assess the quality of ten reviews and the inclusion of clinimetric properties were assessed using the COSMIN checklist.
Results: We included three systematic reviews rated moderate to high (2 hand injury instrument reviews and 1 wrist fracture outcome review). Recommendations of use and an overview are provided for the disability of the arm, shoulder and hand questionnaire (DASH), QuickDASH, the Michigan hand questionnaire (MHQ), the patient-rated wrist hand evaluation outcome questionnaire (PRWHE) and the carpal tunnel questionnaire (CTQ) scales with established measurement properties.
Conclusions: The DASH, a region-specific 30-item questionnaire is the most widely tested instrument in patients with wrist and hand injuries. The MHQ can provide good value to patients with hand injuries. Although, the CTQ is the most sensitive to clinical change, the DASH and MHQ have shown to be sufficiently responsive to outcome studies of carpal tunnel syndrome. The PRWHE has a good construct validity and responsiveness, which is only slightly better than the DASH to assess patients with wrist injuries. As the quality of patient-oriented validation continues to increase then the instruments can be selected more carefully. We will then be able to see that the future orthopaedic care of patients with hand and wrist injuries may also improve.
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