European Spine Journal

, Volume 23, Issue 10, pp 2028–2045 | Cite as

Focus article: report of the NIH task force on research standards for chronic low back pain

  • Richard A. DeyoEmail author
  • Samuel F. Dworkin
  • Dagmar Amtmann
  • Gunnar Andersson
  • David Borenstein
  • Eugene Carragee
  • John Carrino
  • Roger Chou
  • Karon Cook
  • Anthony DeLitto
  • Christine Goertz
  • Partap Khalsa
  • John Loeser
  • Sean Mackey
  • James Panagis
  • James Rainville
  • Tor Tosteson
  • Dennis Turk
  • Michael Von Korff
  • Debra K. Weiner
Report of the NIH Task Force


Despite rapidly increasing intervention, functional disability due to chronic low back pain (cLBP) has increased in recent decades. We often cannot identify mechanisms to explain the major negative impact cLBP has on patients’ lives. Such cLBP is often termed non-specific and may be due to multiple biologic and behavioral etiologies. Researchers use varied inclusion criteria, definitions, baseline assessments, and outcome measures, which impede comparisons and consensus. Therefore, NIH Pain Consortium charged a Research Task Force (RTF) to draft standards for research on cLBP. The resulting multidisciplinary panel recommended using 2 questions to define cLBP; classifying cLBP by its impact (defined by pain intensity, pain interference, and physical function); use of a minimum dataset to describe research participants (drawing heavily on the PROMIS methodology); reporting “responder analyses” in addition to mean outcome scores; and suggestions for future research and dissemination. The Pain Consortium has approved the recommendations, which investigators should incorporate into NIH grant proposals. The RTF believes that these recommendations will advance the field, help to resolve controversies, and facilitate future research addressing the genomic, neurologic, and other mechanistic substrates of chronic low back pain. We expect that the RTF recommendations will become a dynamic document and undergo continual improvement.


A task force was convened by the NIH Pain Consortium with the goal of developing research standards for chronic low back pain. The results included recommendations for definitions, a minimum dataset, reporting outcomes, and future research. Greater consistency in reporting should facilitate comparisons among studies and the development of phenotypes.


Low back pain Chronic low back pain Research standards Minimum dataset NIH Task Force 


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Copyright information

© The American Pain Society (APS) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard A. Deyo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Samuel F. Dworkin
    • 2
  • Dagmar Amtmann
    • 2
  • Gunnar Andersson
    • 3
  • David Borenstein
    • 4
  • Eugene Carragee
    • 5
  • John Carrino
    • 6
  • Roger Chou
    • 1
  • Karon Cook
    • 7
  • Anthony DeLitto
    • 8
  • Christine Goertz
    • 9
  • Partap Khalsa
    • 10
  • John Loeser
    • 2
  • Sean Mackey
    • 5
  • James Panagis
    • 11
  • James Rainville
    • 12
  • Tor Tosteson
    • 13
  • Dennis Turk
    • 2
  • Michael Von Korff
    • 14
  • Debra K. Weiner
    • 8
  1. 1.Oregon Health and Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Rush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA
  4. 4.George Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA
  5. 5.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  6. 6.Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  7. 7.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  8. 8.VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  9. 9.Palmer College of ChiropracticDavenportUSA
  10. 10.National Center for Complementary and Alternative MedicineBethesdaUSA
  11. 11.Musculoskeletal and Skin DiseasesNational Institute for ArthritisBethesdaUSA
  12. 12.New England Baptist HospitalRoxbury CrossingUSA
  13. 13.Dartmouth UniversityHanoverUSA
  14. 14.Group Health Research InstituteSeattleUSA

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