Background: Numerous methodological limitations have constrained the findings of previous studies that have examined the prevalence of low back pain in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis. This article presents a study protocol that has been designed to address the shortcomings of prior research in this area. In addition, it will establish the level of disease burden associated with acute, recurrent, and chronic low back pain in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis.
Methods: This study will involve a prospective cohort of adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis presenting to an outpatient department in a paediatric hospital. Potential participants will be eligible for inclusion if they are aged 10–17 years, experience adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, own a mobile phone, and are able to communicate in either French or English adequately. The primary outcome measure is the presence of low back pain. The secondary outcome will be measures with the Brief Pain Questionnaire and the PedsQL questionnaire. Participants will be followed over a 12-month period reporting weekly, via SMS-tracking.
Discussion: Previous studies frequently established the prevalence of low back pain through asking participants to recall whether they experienced low back pain over certain periods. These periods often extended beyond many months, and hence were subject to recall bias. Our study addresses such bias through gathering data on a weekly basis using SMS-tracking providing detailed information about the progression of low back pain, which allows researchers to establish the prevalence of acute, recurrent, and chronic low back pain with a better certainty. Furthermore, the previous studies failed to use a standardised definition of low back pain. As such, it is not possible to determine whether the reported low back pain was experienced at the following standardised defined location: “pain in the space between the lower posterior margin of the rib cage and the horizontal gluteal fold”.
Conclusion: This research protocol will be the first study to determine the proportion of adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis who experience acute, recurrent, and chronic low back pain, and establish the level of the burden associated with these subgroups of low back pain.
Author keywords: Low back pain — Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis — Disease burden — Prospective Prevalence
Author affiliations: JT, SLM, HL: Research Center, Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center, Montreal, QC Canada; JT, NS, CJH, CL-Y, BFW: School of Health Professions, Murdoch University, 90, South Street, Murdoch, WA 6150 Australia; SLM: Faculty of Nursing, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC Canada; HL: Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada
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