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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2018

Predicting the outcome of conservative treatment with physiotherapy in adults with shoulder pain associated with partial-thickness rotator cuff tears – a prognostic model development study

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2018
Cordula Braun, Nigel C. Hanchard, Helen H. Handoll, Andreas Betthäuser
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12891-018-2239-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Rotator cuff disorders represent the commonest type of painful shoulder complaints in clinical practice. Although conservative treatment including physiotherapy is generally recommended as first-line treatment, little is known about the precise treatment indications for subgroups of rotator cuff disorders, particularly people with shoulder pain associated with partial-thickness tears of the rotator cuff, PTTs: “symptomatic PPTs”. The aim of this study was to develop a prognostic model for predicting the outcome of a phase of conservative treatment primarily with physiotherapy in adults with symptomatic PTTs.


A prospective observational cohort study was conducted in an outpatient setting in Germany. Ten baseline factors were selected to evaluate nine pre-defined multivariable candidate prognostic models (each including between two and nine factors) in a cohort of adults with symptomatic atraumatic PTTs undergoing a three-month phase of conservative treatment primarily with physiotherapy. The primary outcome was change in the Western Ontario Rotator Cuff Index. The models were developed using linear regression and an information-theoretic analysis approach: Akaike’s Information Criterion (AICC).


Eight candidate models were analyzed using data from 61 participants. Two “best models” were identified: smoking & pain catastrophizing and disability & pain catastrophizing. However, none of the models had a satisfactory performance or precision.


We could not determine a prognostic model with satisfactory performance and precision. Further high-quality prognostic model studies with larger samples are needed, but should be underpinned, and thus preceded, by robust research that enhances knowledge of relevant prognostic factors.

Study registration

DRKS00004462. Registered 08 April 2014; retrospectively registered (prior to the analysis).
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