Predicting the outcome of conservative treatment with physiotherapy in adults with shoulder pain associated with partial-thickness rotator cuff tears – a prognostic model development study

  • Cordula Braun (Contributor)
  • Nigel Hanchard (Contributor)
  • Helen Handoll (Contributor)
  • Andreas Betthäuser (Creator)



Abstract Background Rotator cuff disorders represent the commonest type of painful shoulder complaints in clinical practice. Although conservative treatment including physiotherapy is generally recommended as first-line treatment, little is known about the precise treatment indications for subgroups of rotator cuff disorders, particularly people with shoulder pain associated with partial-thickness tears of the rotator cuff, PTTs: “symptomatic PPTs”. The aim of this study was to develop a prognostic model for predicting the outcome of a phase of conservative treatment primarily with physiotherapy in adults with symptomatic PTTs. Methods A prospective observational cohort study was conducted in an outpatient setting in Germany. Ten baseline factors were selected to evaluate nine pre-defined multivariable candidate prognostic models (each including between two and nine factors) in a cohort of adults with symptomatic atraumatic PTTs undergoing a three-month phase of conservative treatment primarily with physiotherapy. The primary outcome was change in the Western Ontario Rotator Cuff Index. The models were developed using linear regression and an information-theoretic analysis approach: Akaike’s Information Criterion (AICC). Results Eight candidate models were analyzed using data from 61 participants. Two “best models” were identified: smoking & pain catastrophizing and disability & pain catastrophizing. However, none of the models had a satisfactory performance or precision. Conclusions We could not determine a prognostic model with satisfactory performance and precision. Further high-quality prognostic model studies with larger samples are needed, but should be underpinned, and thus preceded, by robust research that enhances knowledge of relevant prognostic factors. Study registration DRKS00004462 . Registered 08 April 2014; retrospectively registered (prior to the analysis).
Date made available11 Sep 2018

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