Expert performance in low-back disorder recognition using patient pain drawings

N. Horace Mann, Mark D. Brown, Isadore Enger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Eight low-back-pain experts who regularly include pain drawings in their clinical workup were asked to classify 25 drawings. The experts used only the drawings to place cases into one of five broadly defined diagnostic categories: benign disorder, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, underlying disorder, or psychogenic disturbance. The physicians demonstrated adequate accuracy-51% correct-when compared with change (20% correct). Classification accuracy was greatest for psychogenic disorders (85%), followed by spinal stenosis (58%), herniated discs (52%), and benign disorders (50%). Predictions were comparatively poor for the underlying disorder category (10%). The individual physician accuracies varied from 44 to 60%. 'Classic' pain patterns for each disorder group were identified by determining which drawings were correctly classified by most physicians. Physicians may wish to impart greater significance to pain drawings close to one of our 'classic' patterns than to others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-259
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Spinal Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1992


  • Benign dis-order
  • Herniated disc
  • Patient pain drawing
  • Psychogenic disturbance
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Underlying disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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