Quality Measures for the Diagnosis and Non-Operative Management of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Occupational Settings

Published in: Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, v. 21, no. 1, Mar. 2011, p. 100-119

Posted on RAND.org on March 01, 2011

by Teryl K. Nuckols, Phillip Harber, Karl Sandin, Douglas Benner, Haoling Weng, Rebecca Shaw, Anne Griffin, Steven M. Asch

Read More

Access further information on this document at Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

INTRODUCTION: Providing higher quality medical care to workers with occupationally associated carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) may reduce disability, facilitate return to work, and lower the associated costs. Although many workers' compensation systems have adopted treatment guidelines to reduce the overuse of unnecessary care, limited attention has been paid to ensuring that the care workers do receive is high quality. Further, guidelines are not designed to enable objective assessments of quality of care. This study sought to develop quality measures for the diagnostic evaluation and non-operative management of CTS, including managing occupational activities and functional limitations. MITHODS: Using a variation of the well-established RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method, we developed draft quality measures using guidelines and literature reviews. Next, in a two-round modified-Delphi process, a multidisciplinary panel of 11 U.S. experts in CTS rated the measures on validity and feasibility. RESULTS: Of 40 draft measures, experts rated 31 (78%) valid and feasible. Nine measures pertained to diagnostic evaluation, such as assessing symptoms, signs, and risk factors. Eleven pertain to non-operative treatments, such as the use of splints, steroid injections, and medications. Eleven others address assessing the association between symptoms and work, managing occupational activities, and accommodating functional limitations. CONCLUSIONS: These measures will complement existing treatment guidelines by enabling providers, payers, policymakers, and researchers to assess quality of care for CTS in an objective, structured manner. Given the characteristics of previous measures developed with these methods, greater adherence to these measures will probably lead to improved patient outcomes at a population level.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.