Elbow-specific clinical rating systems: extent of established validity, reliability, and responsiveness

Bertram The*, Inge H. F. Reininga, Mostafa El Moumni, Denise Eygendaal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The modern standard of evaluating treatment results includes the use of rating systems. Elbow-specific rating systems are frequently used in studies aiming at elbow-specific pathology. However, proper validation studies seem to be relatively sparse. In addition, these scoring systems might not always be used for appropriate populations of interest. Both of these issues might give rise to invalid conclusions being reported in the literature. Our aim was to investigate the extent to which the available elbow-specific outcome measurement tools have been validated and the quality of the validation itself. We also aimed to provide characteristics of the populations used for validation of these scales to enable clinicians to use them appropriately.

Methods: A literature search identified 17 studies of 12 different elbow-specific scoring systems. These were assessed for validity, reliability, and responsiveness characteristics. The quality of these assessments was rated according to the Consensus Based Standards for the Selection of Health Measurement Instruments (COSMIN) checklist criteria, a standardized and validated tool developed specifically for this purpose.

Results: Currently, the only elbow-specific rating system that is validated using high-quality methodology is the Oxford Elbow Score, a patient-administered outcome measure tool that has been validated on heterogeneous study populations.

Conclusion: Other rating systems still have to be proven in the future to be as good as the Oxford Elbow Score for clinical or research purposes. Additional validation studies are needed.

Level of evidence: Basic Science, Validation of Outcome Instruments, Systematic Review. (C) 2013 Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Board of Trustees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1380-1394
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2013


  • Clinical rating systems
  • elbow
  • validity
  • reliability
  • responsiveness
  • population

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