The HWH RESCU Rating Scale

Wayne M. Whalen
Chief Content Officer

The purpose of the RESCU Rating Scale is to combine the best science with a doctor’s experience. It provides you with information to help you decide which treatment is best for you.

Here’s a sample of our unique RESCU Rating System for low back pain.

Treatment Options

Evaluated on the RESCU Rating Scale

R = Risk      E = Effectiveness      S = Self-Care

C = Cost     U = Usefulness (overall rating)

1 = Least Favorable     5 = Most Favorable

Chiropractic  5   5   2   4  5
 Ice/Heat 5 3 5 5 5
Acupuncture 5 3 1 5 4
Cortisone Injection 1 2 0 3 1
NSAIDs 2 3 5 4 3
MuscleRelaxants 3 2 0 4 2
TENS 5 3 5 5 5
Surgery 3 2 0 1 3
ElectricalStimulation 5 2 4 4 5
Exercise 4 5 5 5 4

RISK: Risk is a measure of how safe the treatment is, especially compared to other common treatments for the same condition. 

  • No risk would earn Help What Hurts Five Heart Rating
  • High risk would earn Help What Hurts No Heart Rating

EFFECTIVENESS: What are the odds that this treatment will help reduce your pain?

SELF CARE: Can you do any of this at home?

COST: How expensive is the treatment?

USEFULNESS: With all things considered, how does this treatment rate?

How We Do It

For all our ratings, we use what we believe is the best available scientific evidence, and where the evidence is unclear or conflicting, we rely on our interpretation of the expert scientific consensus. Our goal is to provide an unbiased rating based on our writing expert’s interpretation of the best available scientific evidence, to help you make informed decisions about treatment options. Our ratings are constantly updated as we become aware of new evidence. We review the relevant scientific papers, looking first in highly regarded scientific journals. If evidence is conflicting or lacking, we rely on our extensive clinical experience and editorial board for consensus. We are also open to alternative viewpoints and invite well-researched submissions. For more information, please see our legal disclaimer.

We use the familiar heart/number system. Zero or one heart means there is little evidence or support, higher cost or higher risk. Five hearts, as you might surmise, means there is good evidence for that treatment, a good value, safer treatment or high support among experts.

Finally, we do our best to provide an overall recommendation under “Usefulness.” These issues are complicated, and there are many factors to consider. You may be looking for the least expensive options to try first or want to rely on the treatments with most evidence of effectiveness, or the safest approaches first. You decide and make an informed decision. We simply want to provide information to help you make the right choice.

In the “Usefulness” category we try to combine all the ratings to give you an overall estimate of how useful we believe a treatment might be, ranging from “Try this first” to “Don’t bother.” These ratings are based on what we believe is the best available evidence. We are dedicated to constantly updating these ratings as new information becomes available.

We recognize that both you and healthcare providers are on a journey to find resolution your problem, and we hope to be a reliable partner in that journey!

That said, it is important to remember that choosing the right treatment approach first requires a proper diagnosis. We can help you sift through treatment options, but only a licensed health care provider can provide a proper diagnosis!

Low Back Pain

Check out the newly added ratings for Low Back Pain Treatments.

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