Background:

Accurate outcome prediction is desirable post spinal cord injury (SCI), reducing uncertainty for patients and supporting personalized treatments. Numerous attempts have been made to create clinical prediction rules that identify patients who are likely to recover function. It is unknown to what extent these rules are routinely used in clinical practice.

Objectives:

To better understand knowledge of, and attitudes toward, clinical prediction rules amongst SCI clinicians in the United Kingdom.

Methods:

An online survey was distributed via mailing lists of clinical special interest groups and relevant National Health Service Trusts. Respondents answered questions about their knowledge of existing clinical prediction rules and their general attitudes to using them. They also provided information about their level of experience with SCI patients.

Results:

One hundred SCI clinicians completed the survey. The majority (71%) were unaware of clinical prediction rules for SCI; only 8% reported using them in clinical practice. Less experienced clinicians were less likely to be aware. Lack of familiarity with prediction rules was reported as being a barrier to their use. The importance of clinical expertise when making prognostic decisions was emphasized. All respondents reported interest in using clinical prediction rules in the future.

Conclusion:

The results show widespread lack of awareness of clinical prediction rules amongst SCI clinicians in the United Kingdom. However, clinicians were positive about the potential for clinical prediction rules to support decision-making. More focus should be directed toward refining current rules and improving dissemination within the SCI community.

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