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Journal of Orofacial Pain

Year 1989
Volume 3 , Issue 1

Pages: 143 - 146

Interrater Reliability in Masticatory Muscle Palpation

Stockstill/Gross/McCall Jr

Muscle palpation is an important procedure in screening for TM disorders and assessing results of treatment outcome studies, but interpretation of response may be subjective and vulnerable to examiner bias. Masticatory muscle palpation scoring was evaluated with respect to interrater agreement on 31 myofascial pain-dysfunction patients participating in a medication study. Two clinicans independently palpated the temporomandibular joints, muscles of mastication, and related head and neck musculature on three different occasions over the 6-week period of the study. Standardization of palpation technique and initial protocol for interpretation of subject r esponse were discussed prior to the first examinatio n. Further clarification and reinforcement of examination methodology and scoring were carried out prior to the second examination, 1 week later. Another 5 weeks passed, with no further standardization, bedore the third and last examination. A behaviorally anchored scoring system (0 to 3) was used to rate response to palpation. Results indicate that wo investigators can achieve a fair degree of reliability when carefully standardized, further interrater standardization can result in higher reliability, and reliability can be maintained over at least a 5-week period of time.


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