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Cost of Physiotherapy Interventions Compared

British researchers assess cost-effectiveness of two approaches to back and neck pain

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- A treatment for back and neck pain that utilizes traditional physical therapy appears to be more cost-effective than a newer approach based on cognitive-behavioral principles, according to research published in the September issue of Rheumatology.

Andrea Manca, Ph.D., of the University of York in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data on the costs and benefits of the McKenzie approach, in which the therapist evaluates the patient's spinal movements and prescribes specific exercises, versus the solution-finding approach, in which the therapist and patient identify problems relating to the pain, as well as solutions and goals. Subjects were 315 adults with back or neck pain randomized into one of the interventions and followed for 12 months.

The researchers found that those in the McKenzie group had a slight advantage in improvement in quality-adjusted life years, based upon questionnaires that subjects filled out throughout the period. Although the McKenzie treatment was associated with higher per-patient cost over the year, the researchers' analysis indicated that the McKenzie treatment remained cost-effective due to the possible increased benefit.

"As with all medical decisions regarding the implementation of alternative treatment opinions, the cost effectiveness of physiotherapy treatments must be assessed. Whilst clinical data is vital for informing policy and practice, elucidating whether a treatment offers good value for money in terms of cost versus benefit must also be considered," the authors write.

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