The calculator is a web-based tool
that tries to facilitate the transfer of scientific evidence from complex clinical trials directly to consumers and patients.
Lower back pain and related conditions are prevalent and costly health problems in the United States. Surgery to remove a slipped or ruptured disc (lumbar discectomy) and surgery to join two vertebrae (lumbar fusion) are two of the 10 most frequently performed surgical procedures in the United States. The surgical rates of these two surgeries vary widely in different geographical areas, which may indicate that physician practices or other related factors may influence the decision to have surgery—not clinical evidence or patient preferences. Patients who understand the benefits or harms of surgery versus alternative treatments are more likely to make choices consistent with their goals and values. However, patients often lack the necessary information tailored to their individual condition and capacity. The Spine Treatment Outcomes Calculator is a web-based tool that tries to facilitate the transfer of scientific evidence from complex clinical trials directly to consumers and patients to help them make more informed choices.
In collaboration with Consumer Reports, Dartmouth’s Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center (MCRC) in Musculoskeletal Disease has developed and published a web-based calculator to provide personalized estimates of treatment benefits and harms to support shared decision making in the treatment of lower back problems. The calculator was designed for people with one of three specific lower back problems— intervertebral disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and degenerative spondylolisthesis—who are considering surgery to treat their condition. Individualized prediction models based on the Dartmouth Spine Patient Outcome Research Trial (SPORT) are used to project improvements over time in physical functioning, physical discomfort, and symptoms a patient may expect with non-surgical treatment and with surgery, as well as the associated risks. Completing the calculator and getting results takes about 2-3 minutes.
Kevin McGuire, Adam Pearson, Emily Scherer, Susan Schwarz, Kevin Spratt, Wenyan Zhao
Michael Kelly, Alden Milam, Kristina Mycek, Doris Peters
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Spine Treatment Outcomes Calculator