Review article (meta-analysis)| Volume 96, ISSUE 3, P552-562, March 2015

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Measurement Tools for Adherence to Non-Pharmacologic Self-Management Treatment for Chronic Musculoskeletal Conditions: A Systematic Review

Published:August 06, 2014DOI:



      To identify measures of adherence to nonpharmacologic self-management treatments for chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) populations; and to report on the measurement properties of identified measures.

      Data Sources

      Five databases were searched for all study types that included a chronic MSK population, unsupervised intervention, and measure of adherence.

      Study Selection

      Two independent researchers reviewed all titles for inclusion using the following criteria: adult (>18y) participants with a chronic MSK condition; intervention, including an unsupervised self-management component; and measure of adherence to the unsupervised self-management component.

      Data Extraction

      Descriptive data regarding populations, unsupervised components, and measures of unsupervised adherence (items, response options) were collected from each study by 1 researcher and checked by a second for accuracy.

      Data Synthesis

      No named or referenced adherence measurement tools were found, but a total of 47 self-invented measures were identified. No measure was used in more than a single study. Methods could be grouped into the following: home diaries (n=31), multi-item questionnaires (n=11), and single-item questionnaires (n=7). All measures varied in type of information requested and scoring method. The lack of established tools precluded quality assessment of the measurement properties using COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments methodology.


      Despite the importance of adherence to self-management interventions, measurement appears to be conducted on an ad hoc basis. It is clear that there is no consistency among adherence measurement tools and that the construct is ill-defined. This study alerts the research community to the gap in measuring adherence to self-care in a rigorous and reproducible manner. Therefore, we need to address this gap by using credible methods (eg, COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments guidelines) to develop and evaluate an appropriate measure of adherence for self-management.


      List of abbreviations:

      COSMIN (COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments), HCP (health care professional), MSK (musculoskeletal), WHO (World Health Organization)
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