Objectives The misalignment of patient and researcher objectives has been shown to contribute to research inefficiency and wastage. The patient research priorities in degenerative cervical myelopathy [DCM] are unknown. The present study aimed to establish relevant functional domains and their recovery priority to DCM sufferers.
Design Functional domains were established from qualitative patient interviews (n=4), and the recovery priority through an e-survey (n=659).
Subjects DCM Patients recruited via a DCM charity [Myelopathy.org] and Google Adwords.
Methods Seven functional domains were identified: arm and hand, walking, upper body/trunk, sexual, elimination of pain, normal sensation and bladder/bowel function. Patients were asked to rank these domains. The influence of disease characteristics on selection was analysed.
Results 481 complete responses were analysed. Overall, pain was the most popular recovery priority (39.9%), followed by walking (20.2%), sensation (11.9) and arm and hand function (11.5%). Sexual function (5.7%), bladder and bowel (3.7%) or trunk function (3.5%) were chosen less frequently. With respect to disease characteristics, overall pain remained the recovery priority [with the exception of patients with greater walking impairment (p<0.005) who prioritised walking] even amongst patients with lower pain scores.
Conclusions Pain is a recovery priority for DCM patients, even amongst those reporting low levels of pain.
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