Background: The Keele STarT Back Screening Tool (SBT), a 9-item questionnaire, screens for pain, physical functioning, fear-avoidance beliefs, catastrophizing, anxious thoughts, low mood, and bothersomeness in persons with back pain. SBT scores designate low, medium, or high risk for developing persistent disabling back pain. The primary study aim was to report the prevalence of SBT-calculated risk for back pain disability in US patients seeking chiropractic care.
Methods: The SBT questionnaire was administered to patients ≥18 years in 3 Chiropractic College outpatient teaching clinics in Iowa and Illinois (May 2017). Descriptive statistics were used to analyze respondent characteristics and prevalence of SBT-calculated risk subgroups. Binary logistic regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between respondent characteristics and SBT scores (including psychological subscores).
Results: Of 550 respondents, 496 completed the SBT; 392 (79%) scored low-risk, 81 (16%) medium-risk, and 23 (5%) high-risk. Mean (SD) age was 44.8 (15.9), 56.9% were female, 88.2% white, 62.6% employed, mean current pain was 2.9 (2.1) out of 10, and 62% reported symptom duration > 3 months. Eighteen percent of respondents reported anxious thoughts, 32% low mood, 41% ≥ 1 and 21% ≥ 3 SBT psychological risk factors. Respondents reporting higher average pain (OR = 1.8 [1.4, 2.3]) and pain severity (OR = 1.3 [1.0 to 1.6]) were more likely to score with medium or high risk. Respondents reporting mid back versus low back pain (OR = 0.2 [0.1, 0.7]), and those employed less than full-time versus full-time (0.2 [01, 0.5]) were less likely to score with medium or high risk. Respondents reporting higher average pain were more likely to report ≥1 psychological factor (OR = 1.8 [1.5, 2.0]). Respondents employed part-time were less likely to report ≥1 psychological factor than those employed full-time (OR = 0.4 [0.2, 0.7]).
Conclusion: The sample surveyed was less likely to score with medium or high risk for back pain disability than previous samples studied, perhaps due to differences in study design and sample characteristics. Rates of low mood and anxious thoughts indicate a need for future research to explore psychological factors among persons seeking chiropractic care.
Author keywords: STarT Back screening tool — Back pain — Chiropractic — Disability — Back pain disability — Chronic pain — Low Back pain — Biopsychosocial
Author affiliations: YK: Parker University, Dallas, Texas, USA; DL, RV: Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research, Davenport, Iowa, USA; DD: Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa, USA
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