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Translation validation of a new back pain screening questionnaire (the STarT Back Screening Tool) in French

Olivier Bruyère1*, Maryline Demoulin1, Clara Brereton2, Fabienne Humblet1, Daniel Flynn3, Jonathan C Hill4, Didier Maquet5, Julien Van Beveren6, Jean-Yves Reginster1, Jean-Michel Crielaard5 and Christophe Demoulin5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, Epidemiology and Health Economics, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium

2 Department of Modern and Foreign Languages, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium

3 English language trainer for adults, Verviers, Belgium and Médecins sans frontières, Brussels, Belgium

4 Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK

5 Department of Motricity Sciences, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium

6 Department of French and Romance Languages and Literatures, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium

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Archives of Public Health 2012, 70:12  doi:10.1186/0778-7367-70-12

Published: 7 June 2012



Low back pain (LBP) is a major public health problem and the identification of individuals at risk of persistent LBP poses substantial challenges to clinical management. The STarT Back questionnaire is a validated nine-item patient self-report questionnaire that classifies patients with LBP at low, medium or high-risk of poor prognosis for persistent non-specific LBP. The objective of this study was to translate and cross-culturally adapt the English version of the STarT Back questionnaire into French.


The translation was performed using best practice translation guidelines. The following phases were performed: contact with the STarT Back questionnaire developers, initial translations (English into French), synthesis, back translations, expert committee review, test of the pre-final version on 44 individuals with LBP, final version.


The linguistic translation required minor semantic alterations. The participants interviewed indicated that all items of the questionnaire were globally clear and comprehensible. However, 6 subjects (14%) wondered if two questions were related to back pain or general health. After discussion within the expert committee and with the developer of the STarT Back tool, it was decided to modify the questionnaire and to add a reference to back pain in these two questions.


The French version of the STarT Back questionnaire has been shown to be comprehensible and adapted to the French speaking general population. Investigations are now required to test the psychometric properties (reliability, internal and external validity, responsiveness) of this translated version of the questionnaire.

Low back pain; Questionnaire; Translation