Bo C. Bertilson, Johan Bring, Anneli Sjöblom, Karin Sundell, Lars-Erik Strender

November 2006, Volume 15, Issue 11, pp 1695 - 1703 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-005-0050-3

First Online: 25 January 2006

Reliable classification systems and clinical tests are sought for the care of patients with low back pain (LBP). The objectives of this clinical study were to evaluate inter-examiner reliability in the classification of patients with LBP, the influence of radiological findings on the classification and the reliability of some clinical tests. Two examiners independently assessed 50 outpatients with LBP. Inter-examiner reliability in classification of patients with LBP using Kirkkaldy-Willis classification (KWC) system and in 30 clinical tests was calculated as percentage agreement and kappa coefficients (κ). Inter-examiner reliability was excellent (κ>0.8) for classification according to KWC. Radiological findings did not influence the reliability. Age of the patient, movement range, and pain and neurological signs seemed to guide the decision on classification. The reliability of clinical tests was good (κ>0.6) in 6 tests and moderate (κ>0.4) in 12 tests. Good inter-examiner reliability was found for the SLR test, movement range and sensibility testing with spurs in dermatome areas. We conclude that the KWC for classifying patients with LBP seems to be a reliable classification system depending on a few key observations and that moderate and good inter-examiner reliability can be achieved in several clinical tests in the assessment of LBP.

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