The Responsiveness of Patient- Reported Outcome Tools in Shoulder Surgery Is Dependent on the Underlying Pathological Condition

R. Zackary Unger, Jeremy M. Burnham, Lee Gammon, Chaitu S. Malempati, Cale A. Jacobs, Eric C. Makhni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Given the high number of available patient-reported outcome (PRO) tools for patients undergoing shoulder surgery, comparative information is necessary to determine the most relevant forms to incorporate into clinical practice. Purpose: To determine the utilization and responsiveness of common PRO tools in studies involving patients undergoing arthroscopic rotator cuff repair or operative management of glenohumeral instability. Study Design: Systematic review. Methods: A systematic review of rotator cuff and instability studies from multiple databases was performed according to PRISMA guidelines. Means and SDs of each PRO tool utilized, study sample sizes, and follow-up durations were collected. The responsiveness of each PRO tool compared with other PRO tools was determined by calculating the effect size and relative efficiency (RE). Results: After a full-text review of 238 rotator cuff articles and 110 instability articles, 81 studies and 29 studies met the criteria for final inclusion, respectively. In the rotator cuff studies, 25 different PRO tools were utilized. The most commonly utilized PRO tools were the Constant (50 studies), visual analog scale (VAS) for pain (44 studies), American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES; 39 studies), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA; 20 studies), and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH; 13 studies) scores. The ASES score was found to be more responsive than all scores including the Constant (RE, 1.94), VAS for pain (RE, 1.54), UCLA (RE, 1.46), and DASH (RE, 1.35) scores. In the instability studies, 16 different PRO tools were utilized. The most commonly used PRO tools were the ASES (13 studies), Rowe (10 studies), Western Ontario Shoulder Instability Index (WOSI; 8 studies), VAS for pain (7 studies), UCLA (7 studies), and Constant (6 studies) scores. The Rowe score was much more responsive than both the ASES (RE, 22.84) and the Constant (RE, 33.17) scores; however, the ASES score remained more responsive than the Constant (RE, 1.93), VAS for pain (RE, 1.75), and WOSI (RE, 0.97) scores. Conclusion: Despite being frequently used in the research community, the Constant score may be less clinically useful as it was less responsive. Additionally, it is a greater burden on the provider because it requires objective strength and range of motion data to be gathered by the clinician. In contrast, the ASES score was highly responsive after rotator cuff repair and requires only subjective patient input. Furthermore, separate PRO scoring methods appear to be necessary for patients undergoing rotator cuff repair and surgery for instability as the instability-specific Rowe score was much more responsive than the ASES score.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-247
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • instability
  • patient-reported outcomes
  • rotator cuff repair
  • shoulder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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