Patient self-reporting questionnaires such as the QuickDASH, a shortened version of the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) outcome measure, are critical to current orthopaedic outcomes research. The use of these questionnaires could introduce recall bias in retrospective, case-control, and cross-sectional studies if no preoperative data has been collected prior to study inception. The purpose of this study was to quantify recall accuracy on the QuickDASH questionnaire as a function of the duration of the recall interval.Methods:
This cross-sectional study enrolled 140 patients with nontraumatic hand and elbow diseases. Patients were stratified into groups of thirty-five based on the time since their initial office visit (three months, six months, twelve months, or twenty-four months). All patients had completed the QuickDASH as part of a standard intake form at the time of the initial office visit (actual baseline score). Patients were contacted by phone and asked to recall their upper extremity disability from the time of the initial office visit with use of the QuickDASH questionnaire. Patients also completed the QuickDASH to rate their current disability. Actual and recalled QuickDASH scores for each group were statistically compared. Kruskal-Wallis analysis was used to determine any differences in recall accuracy between the groups. Pearson correlation coefficients quantified relations between recall accuracy and patient age and current function (absolute QuickDASH scores).Results:
Mean differences between recalled QuickDASH scores and actual scores were all less than the QuickDASH minimal clinically important difference (MCID) of 13 points at different time points: three months (–7.1, p < 0.01), six months (0.8, p = 0.79), twelve months (–2.3, p = 0.43), and twenty-four months (–2.8, p = 0.26). There were no significant differences in recall accuracy across the four groups (p = 0.77). Recalled QuickDASH scores were highly correlated with actual baseline values (rp ≥ 0.74). Recall accuracy was neither correlated with patient age nor current QuickDASH scores (rp ≤ 0.04).Conclusions:
Patients with a nontraumatic hand or elbow diagnosis are able to recall prior level of function accurately for up to two years with the QuickDASH questionnaire. Although data collected prospectively remain optimal, our data suggest that research conducted with use of recalled QuickDASH scores produces reliable assessment of disability from common upper extremity diagnoses with acceptable recall bias.Level of Evidence:
Diagnostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.