STUDY DESIGN: A systematic overview of the literature and an agreement study.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study is to explore the inter-professional agreement of diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound (DMUS) between physical therapists (PT) and radiologists, using a new classification strategy based upon the therapeutic consequences in patients with shoulder pain.
BACKGROUND: DMUS is frequently used by PTs, although the agreement regarding traditional diagnostic labels between PTs and radiologists is only fair. Nevertheless, DMUS could be useful when used as a stratifying-tool.
METHODS: First, a systematic overview of current evidence was performed to assess which traditional diagnostic labels could be recoded into new treatment related categories (referral to secondary care, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, watchful waiting). Next, kappa values were calculated for these categories between PTs and radiologists.
RESULTS: Only three categories were extracted, as none of the traditional diagnostic labels were classified into the 'corticosteroid injection' category. Overall, we found moderate agreement to stratify patients into treatment related categories and substantial agreement for the category 'referral to secondary care'. Both categories 'watchful waiting' and 'indication for physical therapy' showed moderate agreement between the two professions.
CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that the agreement between radiologists and PTs is moderate to substantial when labelling is based on treatment consequences. DMUS might be able to help the PT to guide treatment, especially for the category 'referral to secondary care' as this showed the highest agreement. However, as this is just an explorative study, more research is needed, to validate and assess the consequences of this stratification classification for clinical care.