Original Research

The psychometric properties of the Roland Morris disability questionnaire for patients with chronic mechanical low back pain

H. Buchanan
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 63, No 2 | a128 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v63i2.128 | © 2007 H. Buchanan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 January 2007 | Published: 08 January 2007

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H. Buchanan, Occupational Therapy, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Purpose: Functional status measures are currently not widely
used in South Africa to facilitate clinical decision-making or document treatment outcomes for patients with low back pain (LBP). This study investigated the internal consistency and clinical utility of a back-specific functional status measure, the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ), and determined its ability to confirm the need for spinal fusion surgery.
Method: Aretrospective, descriptive design was used with 42 patients with chronic mechanical low back pain who consulted a private Orthopaedic surgeon in Cape Town over a one year  period. All patients completed the RMDQ prior to their consultation. On completion of the medical examination, a rating for surgery was determined for each patient. The completed questionnaires were analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).
Results: The mean RMDQ score was 8.6 (N=42; median=9.0; range=2-21). Cronbach’s alpha showed a high internal consistency between items (.92). A categorical principal component analysis (CATPCA) identified two distinct dimensions in the RMDQ. Item reduction improved the internal consistency and thus the construct validity of the RMDQ. There was a low correlation between the surgeon’s rating for surgery and RMDQ scores (r=.40; P<.01).
Conclusion: The RMDQ shows some good psychometric properties but some adjustments could improve it. The RMDQ cannot be used to predict the need for spinal fusion surgery.


functional status measures; low back pain; roland-morris disability questionnaire; psychometric properties


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