Quality of Low Back Pain Care Affects Length of Sick Leave

Satisfaction varies according to type of provider

THURSDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with low back pain are more satisfied with care given by surgeons, chiropractors and physical therapists than general physicians, and their satisfaction with health care is an important factor in determining how long their back pain will keep them out of the workplace, according to a report published in the May/June issue of The Spine Journal.

Richard J. Butler, Ph.D., of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and William G. Johnson, Ph.D., of Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz., conducted a study of 1,831 workers with work-related back pain, who were interviewed at baseline and again after one, six and 12 months. The information gathered from these interviews was merged with workers' compensation claim files and demographic characteristics.

Workers reported greater satisfaction with their treatment when it was given by surgeons, chiropractors and physical therapists, the researchers found, and considered the effectiveness of treatment as more important than the provider's bedside manner. Improvements in health care satisfaction correlated with reduced workers' compensation claims, the report indicates.

"Although there are several additional factors that we wish we could have measured and controlled (such as personal affect, family life, education level and so on), we see this analysis as providing a first step toward further investigation into the role of the causes and consequences of patient satisfaction in the treatment of occupational back pain," the authors write.

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