Intertester reliability of shoulder complaints diagnoses in primary health care
Objective: Shoulder complaints are frequently encountered in general practice, but precise diagnosing is challenging. This study investigated agreement of shoulder complaints diagnoses between clinicians in a primary health care setting. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Four primary health care clinicians used patients’ history and functional examination of the shoulder by selective tissue tension techniques (STTs), to diagnose shoulder complaints. Subjects: 62 patients, aged 18–75 years. Main outcome measure: Reliability of diagnoses was assessed by observed intertester agreement and Cohen’s kappa. A total of 372 diagnostic pairs were available for intertester comparisons. Results: Six diagnoses were assigned by all clinicians; supraspinatus-, infraspinatus-, subscapularis-tendinopathies; chronic subacromial bursitis; glenohumeral capsulitis, and acromioclavicular joint lesion. The observed agreement on these diagnoses ranged from 0.84 for glenohumeral capsulitis to 0.97 for acromioclavicular joint lesion. Kappa scores were 0.46 (95% CI 0.33, 0.58) for chronic subacromial bursitis; 0.53 (95% CI 0.34, 0.68), 0.59 (95% CI 0.47, 0.70), and 0.68 (95% CI 0.53, 0.82) for infraspinatus -, supraspinatus -, and subscapularis-tendinopathy, respectively. For glenohumeral capsulitis and acromioclavicular lesion kappa scores were 0.66 (95% CI 0.57, 0.73) and 0.78 (95% CI 0.61, 0.90). Kappa scores were higher for individual diagnoses than for individual tests, except for limitation in passive abduction (0.70, 95% CI 0.62, 0.78) and passive lateral rotation (0.66, 95% CI 0.57, 0.73). Conclusions: Although experienced clinicians showed substantial intertester agreement, precise diagnoses of shoulder complaints in primary health care remain a challenge. The present results call for further research on refined diagnoses of shoulder complaints.
Published version.Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02813432.2016.1207139. License CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.