Interobserver agreement in retrospective chart reviews for factors associated with cervical spine injuries in children

Cody S. Olsen, Nathan Kuppermann, David M. Jaffe, Kathleen Brown, Lynn Babcock, Prashant V. Mahajan, Julie C. Leonard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives The objective was to describe the interobserver agreement between trained chart reviewers and physician reviewers in a multicenter retrospective chart review study of children with cervical spine injuries (CSIs). Methods Medical records of children younger than 16 years old with cervical spine radiography from 17 Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) hospitals from years 2000 through 2004 were abstracted by trained reviewers for a study aimed to identify predictors of CSIs in children. Independent physician-reviewers abstracted patient history and clinical findings from a random sample of study patient medical records at each hospital. Interobserver agreement was assessed using percent agreement and the weighted kappa (κ) statistic, with lower 95% confidence intervals. Results Moderate or better agreement (κ > 0.4) was achieved for most candidate CSI predictors, including altered mental status (κ = 0.87); focal neurologic findings (κ = 0.74); posterior midline neck tenderness (κ = 0.74); any neck tenderness (κ = 0.89); torticollis (κ = 0.79); complaint of neck pain (κ = 0.83); history of loss of consciousness (κ = 0.89); nonambulatory status (κ = 0.74); and substantial injuries to the head (κ = 0.50), torso/trunk (κ = 0.48), and extremities (κ = 0.59). High-risk mechanisms showed near-perfect agreement (diving, κ = 1.0; struck by car, κ = 0.93; other motorized vehicle crash, κ = 0.93; fall, κ = 0.92; high-risk motor vehicle collision, κ = 0.89; hanging, κ = 0.80). Fair agreement was found for clotheslining mechanisms (κ = 0.36) and substantial face injuries (κ = 0.40). Conclusions Most retrospectively assessed variables thought to be predictive of CSIs in blunt trauma-injured children had at least moderate interobserver agreement, suggesting that these data are sufficiently valid for use in identifying potential predictors of CSI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-491
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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