Standardized tools help surgeons with symptoms

AAOS creates series of outcomes instruments

Recognizing the need for standardized, reliable, and valid instruments to measure the outcomes of musculoskeletal care, the Rosemont, IL-based American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), in conjunction with a number of orthopedic specialty societies, has created a series of outcomes instruments, or measuring tools.

In 1999, the AAOS, along with the Council of Musculoskeletal Societies and the Council of Spine Societies, undertook a normative data study that has provided these standardized scores for the general population.

"Normative" condition scores for the general population serve as a reference group and allow physicians to assess whether individuals meet established criteria for a specific disorder.

These normative or standard scores will be used in conjunction with the physical examination process to determine diagnosis, pain tolerance, and surgical necessity. Data for the study were collected using a mail survey sent to a representative number of the general public.

Based on a 37% response rate, general population normative scores were calculated by which to compare patients’ scores in clinical and research settings. Collecting these data was a necessary step in the standardization process for any condition or disorder. The AAOS study serves as a national orthopedic database, providing health care practitioners with tools to better recognize, identify, and treat musculoskeletal conditions in conjunction with traditional diagnostic procedures.

The AAOS developed outcomes instruments to study lumbar and cervical spine, upper limb, lower limb, hip, knee, foot, ankle, and sports knee. Pediatric tools also are available. These instruments, in the form of questionnaires, along with the normative data standardized scores, can be downloaded from the AAOS web site. Several foreign language translations of some instruments are available.

For the tools and other information, see the AAOS web site at