Are clinical outcomes associated with baseline sensory profiles in people with musculoskeletal shoulder pain? Protocol for a prospective longitudinal observational study

Danielle Hollis, M. Dilani Mendis, Shu Kay Ng, Michael Thomas, Darryn Marks, Jeremy Lewis, Julie Hides, Leanne Bisset*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review



Musculoskeletal shoulder pain is a common problem and its symptoms often become persistent. The experience of pain is multidimensional, and therefore, a range of patient characteristics may influence treatment response. An altered sensory processing has been associated with persistent musculoskeletal pain states and may contribute to outcomes in patients with musculoskeletal shoulder pain. The presence and potential impact of altered sensory processing in this patient cohort is not currently known. The aim of this prospective longitudinal cohort study is to investigate if baseline sensory characteristics are associated with clinical outcomes in patients presenting to a tertiary hospital with persistent musculoskeletal shoulder pain. If found, a relationship between sensory characteristics and outcome may lead to the creation of more effective treatment strategies and improvements in risk adjustment and prognosis. 


This is a single-centre prospective cohort study with 6-, 12- and 24-month follow-up. A total of 120 participants aged ≥18 years with persistent musculoskeletal shoulder pain (≥3 months) will be recruited from an Australian public tertiary hospital orthopaedic department. Baseline assessments, including quantitative sensory tests and a standardised physical examination, will be performed. In addition, information will be obtained from patient interviews, self-report questionnaires and medical records. Follow-up outcome measures will comprise information from the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index and a six-point Global Rating of Change scale. 


Descriptive statistics will be used to report baseline characteristics and outcome measures over time. Change in outcome measures at the primary endpoint of six months from baseline will be calculated using paired t-tests. Associations between baseline characteristics and outcomes at a 6-month follow-up will be reported using multivariable linear and logistic regression models. 


Understanding the relationship between sensory profile and the variable response to treatment in people with persistent musculoskeletal shoulder pain may enhance our understanding of the mechanisms contributing to the presentation. In addition, through better understanding of the contributing factors, the results of this study may contribute to the development of an individualised, patient-centred approach to treatment for people with this highly prevalent and debilitating condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-907
Number of pages13
JournalMusculoskeletal Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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