Comparison of patient-reported outcomes measurement information system and legacy instruments in multiple domains among older veterans with chronic back pain

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2020 Sep 8;21(1):598. doi: 10.1186/s12891-020-03587-6.


Background: Chronic low back pain (cLBP) results in significant physical, psycho-social and socioeconomic burden. Identifying efficient and reliable patient reported outcome measures is critical for research and clinical purposes. The NIH's Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) instruments have not been compared to validated "legacy" instruments in older adults with cLBP. This study evaluates construct (convergent and discriminant) validity and time to complete (TTC) PROMIS as compared to legacy instruments.

Methods: We enrolled older Veterans (age 60+) with cLBP with/without leg pain scheduled for lumbar epidural steroid injections. Subjects completed PROMIS computer adaptive test item banks and corresponding legacy instruments in the following domains: pain intensity, interference, and behavior; functional status; depression and anxiety; fatigue; sleep and social functioning. Convergent and discriminant validity between PROMIS and legacy instruments was evaluated using Spearman rank order correlations; Mann-Whitney U tests compared TTC.

Results: Of the 71 Veterans recruited, the median (IQR) age was 67 (63-71) years old, 94% were men, 76% were White, 17% Black, and 96% were Non-Hispanic. Spearman correlations between PROMIS and legacy instruments showed moderate to very strong convergent validity in all domains (r = 0.4-1.0), except for social functioning and pain behavior (PROMIS Pain Behavior with Fear Avoidance Belief Questionnaire). The total median TTC for all PROMIS items was significantly shorter than legacy items, 8 min 50 s vs 29 min 14 s respectively, p < 0.001.

Conclusions: Given time efficiency of using PROMIS, along with strong construct validity, PROMIS instruments are a practical choice for measuring multidimensional PROs in older Veterans with cLBP for both research and clinical purposes.

Keywords: Chronic back pain; Construct validity; Measurement; Older adults; Patient reported outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anxiety
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Systems
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Veterans*