, Volume 470, Issue 12, pp 3470-3477
Date: 21 Aug 2012

To What Degree do Shoulder Outcome Instruments Reflect Patients’ Psychologic Distress?

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Psychologic distress contributes to symptom severity in patients with several musculoskeletal disorders. While numerous shoulder outcome instruments are used it is unclear whether and to what degree psychologic distress contributes to the scores.


We asked (1) to what degree shoulder outcome instruments reflect patients’ psychologic distress, and (2) whether patients who are strongly affected by psychologic distress can be identified.


We prospectively evaluated 119 patients with chronic shoulder pain caused by degenerative or inflammatory disorders using the Constant-Murley scale, Simple Shoulder Test (SST), and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) questionnaire. To evaluate psychologic distress, we measured depression using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale and pain anxiety using the Pain Anxiety Symptom Scale (PASS). Demographic and clinical parameters, such as pain scores, ROM, and abduction strength, also were measured. We then assessed the relative contributions made by psychologic distress and other clinical parameters to the quantitative ratings of the three shoulder outcome instruments.


Quantitative ratings of shoulder outcome instruments correlated differently with psychologic distress. Constant-Murley scores did not correlate with psychologic measures, whereas SST scores correlated with PASS (r = 0.32) and DASH scores correlated with PASS and CES-D (r = 0.36 and r = 0.32). Psychologic distress contributed to worsening SST and DASH scores but not to Constant-Murley scores. DASH scores were more strongly influenced by pain anxiety and depression than the other two outcome instruments.


Shoulder outcome measures reflected different psychologic aspects of illness behavior, and the contributions made by psychologic distress to different shoulder outcome instruments apparently differed. Physicians should select and interpret the findings of shoulder outcome instruments properly by considering their psychologic implications.

Level of Evidence

Level II, prognostic study. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Each author certifies that he or she, or a member of his or her immediate family, has no commercial associations (eg, consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article.
All ICMJE Conflict of Interest Forms for authors and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research editors and board members are on file with the publication and can be viewed on request.
Each author certifies that his or her institution approved the human protocol for this investigation, that all investigations were conducted in conformity with ethical principles of research, and that informed consent for participation in the study was obtained.
This work was performed at National Police Hospital, Seoul, Korea.