Objective. This study aimed to define patient-determined success criteria for treatment of chronic spine pain across four domains: pain, fatigue, emotional distress, and interference with daily activities.
Patients. Seventy chronic spine pain patients were recruited from university-affiliated pain clinics.
Design. The study design was longitudinal, with pretreatment and post-treatment assessments. Post-treatment assessment occurred approximately 2 months after treatment initiation.
Outcome Measures. Participants completed the Patient-Centered Outcomes Questionnaire and Follow-Up Patient-Centered Outcomes Questionnaire.
Results. At pretreatment, patient requirements for success were a 58% reduction in pain, 61% reduction in fatigue, 64% reduction in distress, and 66% reduction in interference. These criteria, derived using a direct-scaling approach, are more stringent than criteria developed using other methods. However, patients adjusted their success criteria over time by becoming less stringent, and they used these less stringent criteria to make global judgments of treatment success. Using a scale comparison approach, success criteria for pain were a raw change of 17.5 points (0–100 numerical rating scale) and percent change of 25%. Other criteria were 7.5 (11%) for fatigue, 5.0 (13%) for distress, and 9.5 (12%) for interference.
Conclusions. Future research should validate these success criteria, particularly for the less studied domains of fatigue, distress, and interference, and investigate how these criteria evolve over the course of different treatments.