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High-frequency follow up studies in musculoskeletal disorders: a scoping review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-59
Number of pages12
JournalRheumatology (Oxford, England)
Issue number1
Published25 Oct 2020

King's Authors


This scoping review identifies research in musculoskeletal disorders that uses high frequency follow up of symptoms. The aim was to investigate whether symptom variability is investigated as a predictor of disease outcome and how intensive follow-up methods are used in musculoskeletal research.

Embase, Medline and PsycInfo were searched using OVID and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) was also searched using the IEEE Xplore search engine. Studies were systematically reviewed in accordance with PRISMA, but no meta-analysis was done because the priority in this study is to identify gaps in available literature.

21 papers were included. There was a mean of 54 patients per study (standard deviation of 27.7). Two-third of the papers looked at how a symptom influences another in the short-term (subsequent assessment in the same day or next day), but none looked at the long term. Only one study considered symptom variability (Stone et al, 1997) investigating how higher variability in pain (defined by the standard deviation) is associated with higher average pain severity and lower average sleep quality.

The methodology of musculoskeletal disorder research has changed from completing paper booklets to using electronic data capture (smartphones). There has also been a trend of collecting more intensive longitudinal data, but very little research utilises these data to look at how symptom variability affects symptom outcomes. This demonstrates a gap in research where furthering understanding of this will help clinicians decide on the most important symptom to address in future patients.

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