Health Costs Likely High in LBP Patients With High Disability

Depression also influential in low back pain patients' direct health care utilization

MONDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Low back pain (LBP) patients with high levels of disability have an increased likelihood of incurring high health care costs, and depression appears to play an important role in back pain patients' direct health care utilization, according to research published in the Aug. 15 issue of Spine.

Annette Becker, M.D., of the University of Marburg in Germany, and colleagues evaluated the costs associated with LBP care for 1,378 patients, and identified patient characteristics predictive of high health care costs in one year of follow-up.

The researchers found that the costs (direct and indirect) of caring for patients with chronic LBP were about twice that required to care for acutely ill patients, and more than 52 to 54 percent of total costs were indirect. Patients with high disability and daily living restrictions had a two- to five-fold increased risk for high health care costs later on, and depression appeared to be influential in direct health care utilization.

"Interventions designed to reduce high health care costs for LBP should focus on patients with severe LBP and depressive comorbidity. Our results add to the economic understanding of LBP care and may give guidance for future actions on health care improvement and cost reduction," the authors write.

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