Rotator cuff disease is a common musculoskeletal complaint; however, it is often difficult to identify a specific cause or clinical marker, which leads to multiple diagnostic terms being used to describe it.
Terms with a greater invasive connotation may lead to increased use of surgery and imaging, which frequently leads to no improvements in outcomes. The authors of this study conducted an online survey among people with and without shoulder pain to determine whether different diagnostic labels used for rotator cuff disease affected the patients' perceived need for surgery.
The participants were shown a flyer describing a hypothetical case of shoulder pain described as one of these terms: subacromial impingement syndrome, rotator cuff tear, bursitis, rotator cuff–related shoulder pain, shoulder sprain, and episode of shoulder pain. The primary outcome was the perceived need for surgery. A total of 1,308 responses were gathered.