Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire

BioPsychoSocial Assessment Tools for the Elderly - Assessment Summary Sheet

Test: Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire

Year: 1980; Revised 1986

Domain: Biological, Social

Variations/Translations: A computerized version exists, a version was developed for studies of chiropractic care omitted the section on sex life, another version was created for North America removing the section on sex life and adding one on employment/homemaking. It has been translated into several different languages.

Assessment Setting: Clinical

Method of Delivery: Self-administered questionnaire

Description: The Oswestry questionnaire indicates the extent to which a person’s functional level is restricted by back or leg pain, concentrating on the effects rather than nature of pain. It includes 10 six-pt scales which rate the 1) intensity of pain and 2) the effect of pain on: personal care; lifting; walking; sitting; standing; sleeping; sex life; social life; and traveling. It represents a measurement of disability due to pain, rather than pain as an impairment. It is most often used in addition to VAS measures and the McGill Pain Questionnaire.

Scoring/Interpretation: Each section is scored on a 0-to-5 scale, with higher values representing greater disability. The sum of 10 scores is expressed as a percentage of the maximum score; termed the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). ODI scores from 0 to 20 represent minimal disability, 20 to 40 represent moderate disability, 40 to 60 represent severe disability, scores over 60 represent severe disability from pain in several areas of life.

Time to Administer: Less than 5 minutes

Availability: Available as appendix in several studies. Also available online (see below)

Software: N/A

Website: http://www.medicalcriteria.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=171:neurooswestry&catid=64:neurology&Itemid=80&lang=en

Quantitative/Qualitative: Quantitative

Validity (Quantitative): Oswestry scores correlated -0.23 with the Sense of Coherence scale. An effect size of 0.80 has been reported for the Oswestry questionnaire.

Reliability (Quantitative): Test-retest reliability of 0.99. Fairbank (1980) also reported “good internal consistency” but offered no statistical summary.


Fairbank, J.C.T., Couper, J., Davies, J.B., et al. (1980). The Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire. Physiotherapy, 66, 271-273.

Comments: There remain few reports of the validity and reliability of this instrument.