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Validating Goal Attainment in Veterans Undergoing Decompressive Laminectomy

December 4, 2021

Researchers including UPMC’s Subashan Perera, MD, Debra Weiner, MD, Pamela Toto, PhD, OT, and Keelin Moehl, recently published a preliminary study in Pain Medicine investigating the relationship between surgical-defined functional recovery and achievement of personalized goals in patients who underwent decompressive laminectomy (DL) for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). 

While DL for LSS is a common procedure for older adults, it is unclear if surgical success equates to patient-defined success. Researchers identified 28 participants scheduled to undergo DL and had each participant set one-year post-DL goals up to 30 days before undergoing the procedure. 

Investigators compared surgical success rates using a standard measure, the Brigham Spinal Stenosis scale (BSS), to a personal measure, goal attainment scaling (GAS). Comorbidities, cognitive function, and psychological factors were also assessed. 

Of the 28 participants, 17 had successful DL outcomes by BSS standards at one year, but none of the participants achieved all of their GAS goals. 

Given the need for patient-centered care, especially for older adults, these data suggest the need for future intervention research to include patient-centered measures of success, especially for conditions in which the goal is to improve symptoms and quality of life.

Learn more here.


Moehl K, Newman D, Perera S, Toto PE, Weiner DK. Validating Goal Attainment in Veterans Undergoing Decompressive Laminectomy: A Preliminary Study. Pain Med. 2021 Apr 20;22(4):829-835. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnaa406. PMID: 33211875.