Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ)

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First published in 1983 in the journal Spine and reviewed in 2000, the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) is designed to assess self-rated physical disability caused by low back pain.

Intended Population

  • The Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire is most sensitive for patients with mild to moderate disability due to acute, sub-acute, or chronic low back pain.
  • For patients with severe disability the Oswestry Disability Indexis recommended. 

Method of Use and Scoring Interpretation

There are different questionnaires available, which differ from each other in the number of statements: 24-, 18- and 11-item questionnaires.

It includes a list of statements that patients may use to describe their health in relation to their back pain. A patient taking the survey agrees or disagrees with these statements (Yes/No).

The final score, out of 24 represents the degree of disability due to low back pain. A maximum score of 24 indicates the greatest degree of disability from back pain. This score may be used to monitor the pain and symptoms of patients with back pain over time.

Clinical improvement over time can be graded based on the analysis of serial questionnaire scores. If, for example, at the beginning of treatment, a patient’s score was 12 and, at the conclusion of treatment, her score was 2 (10 points of improvement), we would calculate an 83% (10/12 x 100) improvement.

Use the following EVALUATION FORM to evaluate your patient and PRINT THE FORM when the evaluation is completed.

Supporting Literature

Original and Validation Literature:

Roland MO, Morris RW. A study of the natural history of back pain. Part 1: Development of a reliable and sensitive measure of disability in low back pain. Spine 1983; 8: 141-144.

Additional Literature:

  • The Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire and the Oswestry Disability Questionnaire. Spine 2000; 25: 3115-3124.
  • Ostelo, Raymond WJG, et al. 24-item Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire was preferred out of six functional status questionnaires for post-lumbar disc surgery. Journal of clinical epidemiology 57.3 (2004): 268-276.


Dr. Martin Roland is Emeritus Professor of Health Services Research at the University of Cambridge.


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