Introduction Rising healthcare costs support the need for valid health outcome measures to assess the efficacy of orthopaedic surgical procedures. This study seeks to test the validity of the two most common health surveys for patients with foot and ankle conditions, the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society clinical rating system (AOFAS) and the Foot Function Index (FFI) by comparing them to the previously validated Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 (SF-36).
Methods Seventy, randomly selected patients with foot and ankle conditions were given a packet containing the AOFAS, FFI and SF-36 surveys upon visiting the UCLA Orthopaedic Clinic. Pearson correlations were used to detect similarities in patient health as reported by the AOFAS, FFI and SF-36 surveys.
Results Health measured by the AOFAS survey for patients with hindfoot conditions correlates well with the physical component of the SF-36, while the AOFAS survey correlates poorly overall for patients with forefoot conditions. The Activity Limitation category of the FFI correlates well with physical and mental components of the SF-36.
Conclusions The AOFAS survey is a valid tool for assessing physical health status in patients with foot and ankle conditions. The Activity Limitation category of the FFI is a good measure of overall health status in this patient population. Knowing the validity of these tools, we are currently collecting post-operative survey data to test their responsiveness to small but clinically significant change.