External validation of prognostic models for recovery in patients with neck pain

Roel W. Wingbermühle, Martijn W. Heymans, Emiel van Trijffel, Alessandro Chiarotto, Bart Koes, Arianne P. Verhagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Neck pain is one of the leading causes of disability in most countries and it is likely to increase further. Numerous prognostic models for people with neck pain have been developed, few have been validated. In a recent systematic review, external validation of three promising models was advised before they can be used in clinical practice. Objective: The purpose of this study was to externally validate three promising models that predict neck pain recovery in primary care. Methods: This validation cohort consisted of 1311 patients with neck pain of any duration who were prospectively recruited and treated by 345 manual therapists in the Netherlands. Outcome measures were disability (Neck Disability Index) and recovery (Global Perceived Effect Scale) post-treatment and at 1-year follow-up. The assessed models were an Australian Whiplash-Associated Disorders (WAD) model (Amodel), a multicenter WAD model (Mmodel), and a Dutch non-specific neck pain model (Dmodel). Models’ discrimination and calibration were evaluated. Results: The Dmodel and Amodel discriminative performance (AUC < 0.70) and calibration measures (slope largely different from 1) were poor. The Mmodel could not be evaluated since several variables nor their proxies were available. Conclusions: External validation of promising prognostic models for neck pain recovery was not successful and their clinical use cannot be recommended. We advise clinicians to underpin their current clinical reasoning process with evidence-based individual prognostic factors for recovery. Further research on finding new prognostic factors and developing and validating models with up-to-date methodology is needed for recovery in patients with neck pain in primary care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-784
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • External validation
  • Neck pain
  • Prediction model
  • Prognosis
  • Prognostic model
  • Recovery

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