Objective: Researchers often use Neck Disability Index (NDI) scores to classify recovery status in whiplash patients. The purpose of this study was to investigate the optimal cutoff point score for the NDI as a mechanism for differentiating recovery from nonrecovery after whiplash.
Methods: Subjects (N = 123) who had previously sustained whiplash injuries were recruited from 12 clinics. Subjects rated themselves as being recovered (36%) or nonrecovered (64%). This state variable was compared with their NDI score as test variable using the receiver operating characteristic statistic. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve and optimized cutoff points were computed for the whole group and also dichotomized for sex and age.
Results: The mean NDI score for the recovered group was 7.8. It was 27.1 for the nonrecovered group. The cutoff point that optimized sensitivity and specificity for the whole group was an NDI score of 15. For women, it was 19; for older persons, it was 21.
Conclusion: The optimal NDI score cutoff point for differentiating the recovery state after whiplash is 15. Misclassification errors are likely when using lower values.
Author keywords: Whiplash injuries, Surveys and questionnaire, Disability evaluation
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