Comparison of the Swedish STarT Back Screening Tool and the Short Form of the Örebro Musculoskeletal Pain Screening Questionnaire in patients with acute or subacute back and neck pain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Patients with back and neck pain are often seen in primary care and it is important to provide them with tailored interventions based on risk stratification/triage. The STarT Back Screening Tool (SBT) is a widely used screening questionnaire which has not yet been validated for a population with back and/or neck pain with short duration. Our aim was to compare the concurrent validity of the SBT and the short form of the ÖMPSQ including psychometric properties and clinical utility in a primary care setting.

METHODS: Patients who applied for physiotherapy by direct access (January 2013 to January 2014) at 35 primary care centers in south Sweden, with acute or subacute back and/or neck pain, aged 18-67 years, who were not currently on sick leave or had been on sick leave less than 60 days were asked to complete the SBT and ÖMPSQ-short questionnaire (n = 329). We used the Spearman's rank correlations to study correlations, cross tabulation and Cohen's kappa to analyze agreement of patient classification. Clinical utility was described as clinician scoring miscalculations and misclassifications of total and/or subscale scores.

RESULTS: Completed SBT (9-items) and ÖMPSQ-short (10-items) data were available for 315/329 patients respectively. The statistical correlation for SBT and ÖMPSQ-short total scores was moderately strong (0.62, p < 0.01). In subgroup analyses, the correlations were 0.69 (p < 0.01) for males and 0.57 (p < 0.01) for females. The correlations were lower among older age groups, especially females over 50 years (0.21, p = 0.11). Classification to high or low risk for long-term pain and disability had moderate agreement (κ = 0.42). Observed classification agreement was 70.2%. The SBT had fewer miscalculations (13/315) than the ÖMPSQ-short (54/315).

CONCLUSIONS: The correlation between the SBT and the ÖMPSQ-short scores were moderately strong for individuals with acute or subacute back and/or neck pain. SBT seemed to be clinically feasible to use in clinical practice. We therefore suggest that SBT can be used for individuals with both BP and/or NP in primary care settings but it is important to be aware of that SBT's agreement with the ÖMPSQ-short was poor among females aged over 50 years.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ID: NCT02609750 Registered: November 18, 2015.


External organisations
  • Blekinge Centre of competence
  • Registercentrum Syd
  • Keele University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physiotherapy
  • Orthopedics


  • Journal Article
Original languageEnglish
Article number89
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 21
Publication categoryResearch