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06-08-2015 | Uitgave 2/2016 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 2/2016

Is the Oswestry Disability Index a valid measure of response to sacroiliac joint treatment?

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 2/2016
Anne G. Copay, Daniel J. Cher



Disease-specific measures of the impact of sacroiliac (SI) joint pain on back/pelvis function are not available. The Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) is a validated functional measure for lower back pain, but its responsiveness to SI joint treatment has yet to be established. We sought to assess the validity of ODI to capture disability caused by SI joint pain and the minimum clinically important difference (MCID) after SI joint treatment.


Patients (n = 155) participating in a prospective clinical trial of minimally invasive SI joint fusion underwent baseline and follow-up assessments using ODI, visual analog scale (VAS) pain assessment, Short Form 36 (SF-36), EuroQoL-5D, and questions (at follow-up only) regarding satisfaction with the SI joint fusion and whether the patient would have the fusion surgery again. All outcomes were compared from baseline to 12 months postsurgery. The health transition item of the SF-36 and the satisfaction scale were used as external anchors to calculate MCID. MCID was estimated for ODI using four calculation methods: (1) minimum detectable change, (2) average ODI change of patients’ subsets, (3) change difference between patients’ subsets, and (4) receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve.


After SI fusion, patients improved significantly (p < .0001) on all measures: SI joint pain (48.8 points), ODI (23.8 points), EQ-5D (0.29 points), EQ-5D VAS (11.7 points), PCS (8.9 points), and MCS (9.2 points). The improvement in ODI was significantly correlated (p < .0001) with SI joint pain improvement (r = .48) and with the two external anchors: SF-36 health transition item (r = .49) and satisfaction level (r = .34). The MCID values calculated for ODI using the various methods ranged from 3.5 to 19.5 points. The ODI minimum detectable change was 15.5 with the health transition item as the anchor and 13.5 with the satisfaction scale as the anchor.


ODI is a valid measure of change in SI joint health. Hence, researchers and clinicians may rely on ODI scores to measure disability caused by SI pain. We estimated the MCID for ODI to be 13–15 points, which falls within the range of that previously reported for lumbar back pain and indicates that an improvement in disability should be at least 15 % to be beyond random variation.

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