Clinical decision support tools for selecting interventions for patients with disabling musculoskeletal disorders: a scoping review

Douglas P Gross, Susan Armijo-Olivo, William S Shaw, Kelly Williams-Whitt, Nicola T Shaw, Jan Hartvigsen, Ziling Qin, Christine Ha, Linda J Woodhouse, Ivan A Steenstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose We aimed to identify and inventory clinical decision support (CDS) tools for helping front-line staff select interventions for patients with musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders. Methods We used Arksey and O’Malley’s scoping review framework which progresses through five stages: (1) identifying the research question; (2) identifying relevant studies; (3) selecting studies for analysis; (4) charting the data; and (5) collating, summarizing and reporting results. We considered computer-based, and other available tools, such as algorithms, care pathways, rules and models. Since this research crosses multiple disciplines, we searched health care, computing science and business databases. Results Our search resulted in 4605 manuscripts. Titles and abstracts were screened for relevance. The reliability of the screening process was high with an average percentage of agreement of 92.3 %. Of the located articles, 123 were considered relevant. Within this literature, there were 43 CDS tools located. These were classified into 3 main areas: computer-based tools/questionnaires (n = 8, 19 %), treatment algorithms/models (n = 14, 33 %), and clinical prediction rules/classification systems (n = 21, 49 %). Each of these areas and the associated evidence are described. The state of evidentiary support for CDS tools is still preliminary and lacks external validation, head-to-head comparisons, or evidence of generalizability across different populations and settings. Conclusions CDS tools, especially those employing rapidly advancing computer technologies, are under development and of potential interest to health care providers, case management organizations and funders of care. Based on the results of this scoping review, we conclude that these tools, models and systems should be subjected to further validation before they can be recommended for large-scale implementation for managing patients with MSK disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-318
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • support tools
  • clinical decision
  • interventions
  • disabling musculoskeletal disorders


Dive into the research topics of 'Clinical decision support tools for selecting interventions for patients with disabling musculoskeletal disorders: a scoping review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this