I am a physical therapist and a certified hand therapist. I work in a large clinic that treats just upper extremity problems. We have a fair number of patients with cubital tunnel syndrome who end up having surgery. We are looking for a valid tool to use to measure patient satisfaction before and after treatment. Are you a familiar with anything like that?
For those who don't know, cubital tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the ulnar nerve where it crosses the inside edge of the elbow. Another way to describe this problem is to call it an ulnar nerve entrapment.
The symptoms are very similar to the pain that comes from hitting your funny bone. When you hit your funny bone, you are actually hitting the ulnar nerve on the inside of the elbow. There, the nerve runs through a passage called the cubital tunnel. When this area becomes irritated from injury or pressure, it can lead to cubital tunnel syndrome.
There are various ways to measure patient satisfaction using symptom-specific scales or numerical ratings. Numerical ratings ask patients to rate their satisfaction from zero to 10 with zero being completely unsatisfied and 10 representing completely satisfied).
Other rating scales may ask patients to rate their outcomes as poor, fair, good, or excellent. From a statistical research point-of-view, if this scale hasn't been tested and proven reliable and valid, then the reported evidence may not be a real measure of results. Some clinicians use the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) or the Short-Form-36 (SF-36), but neither of these are specific to cubital tunnel syndrome.
According to a recent systematic review looking for a comparison between patient and surgeon satisfaction after surgery for cubital tunnel syndrome, there isn't such a tool for this specific target population. There is a need to development an instrument that could allow for such an assessment on the part of patients and/or surgeons. This would require a series of steps involving focus groups, expert review and consensus, testing of the tool, and reporting results. With such a tool, new evidence could be generated around this topic that could be relied upon for future patient management.
Sheina A. Macadam, MD, et al. Outcomes Measures Used to Assess Results After Surgery for Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: A Systematic Review of the Literature. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. October 2009. Vol. 34A. No. 8. Pp. 1482-1491.
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