MSK outcome measure heralded as ‘a deal breaker’

A single musculoskeletal (MSK) outcome measure, available online and free of charge to physiotherapists, has the potential to revolutionise professional practice.


The MSK-HQ has been endorsed by the CSP, the Royal College of GPs and NHS England

Jonathan Hill, a senior lecturer in physiotherapy at Keele University, said: ‘I believe the MSK-HQ (musculoskeletal health questionnaire) could be a deal breaker in changing the measurement culture we have in UK MSK physiotherapy, particularly in the NHS.

‘Many physiotherapists struggle to evaluate the performance of their practice because the existing outcome measures are inappropriate.’

Developed as a collaborative project involving Keele and Oxford universities, the MSK-HQ was funded by Arthritis Research UK and supported by NHS England.

The team that developed the MSK-HQ wanted to create a single clinical tool to measure a range of MSK conditions and services. There were concerns that too many outcome tools were available.

Reliable and easy to use

Dr Hill said that the tool has just 14 items, takes less than two minutes to complete and that patients have reported that it captures all the important aspects of their MSK health.

He led a detailed evaluation of the initiative, published by the online medical journal BMJ Open on 5 August. The assessment found that MSK-HQ had high completion rates, excellent test and retest reliability and strong convergent validity with reference standards.

Further validation studies are taking place, including a cohort of patients with rheumatoid and inflammatory arthritis.

A key reason for using the tool, according to Dr Hill, was that ‘any qualified provider’ models of commissioning typically require physiotherapists to engage with service evaluation and improvement. There had been a strong demand from physios for a more appropriate, discrete and easy to use MSK outcome tool.

‘We now have a really useful clinical tool, designed for use in routine clinical practice,’ said Dr Hill.

‘The MSK-HQ has been endorsed by NHS England, the CSP and the Royal College of General Practitioners. Visit the MSK-HQ webpage to find out more, including how to obtain a free-of-charge licence.’

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