Usefulness of Current Patient-Reported Outcome Scales for ACL Injury: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of Stakeholder-Perceived Utility of Specific Constructs and Items Across the Rehabilitation Timeline

Document Type


Publication Date



BACKGROUND: Numerous patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) have been used in patients with anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR), often with overlapping constructs of interest and limited content validity. Inefficient scale application increases burden and diminishes overall usefulness for both the patient and practitioner. PURPOSE: To isolate specific PROM items across a diverse set of constructs that patients and practitioners perceive as having the greatest value at various stages of recovery and return to sport (RTS) in patients after ACLR. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. METHODS: A combined 77 stakeholders participated in this 2-phase mixed-methods investigation. In phase 1, a total of 27 patients and 21 practitioners selected individual PROM items from various constructs that had the greatest utility or importance. In phase 2, the highest rated items were further tested in a head-to-head comparison with 29 stakeholders who attended the 2022 ACL Injury Research Retreat. In addition to the utility assessment, practitioners answered other questions related to importance and timing of PROM assessments. RESULTS: In phase 1, both patients and practitioners shared the same top item in 6 of the 8 (75%) constructs assessed. In phase 2, the construct of psychological burden was rated as "extremely important" by 59% of respondents, followed by physical function (54%), symptoms (35%), and donor site issues (10%). The PROM items of confidence, perceived likelihood of reinjury, and difficulty stopping quickly were rated by a respective 93%, 89%, and 86% of the sample as either "very useful" or "extremely useful." All constructs except donor site issues were rated by most stakeholders to be absolutely necessary to evaluate treatment progress and RTS readiness at the 6-month postoperative time and at RTS. CONCLUSION: Overall, psychological burden, with specific items related to confidence and reinjury likelihood, were rated as most important and useful by both patients and practitioners. The second most important and useful PROM item was related to higher intensity function (eg, decelerating or jumping/landing activities during sports).

Publication Title

Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine