Workers With Low Back Pain Benefit From Integrated
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Workers with chronic low
back pain can be treated for substantially less cost by using an
integrated approach to care instead of traditional medical care, a
new study suggests.
Chronic back pain is an enormous financial burden in developed
countries, with 93 percent of the losses having to do with lost
workplace productivity. Partly for this reason, researchers in the
Netherlands tested a new approach among 134 patients, aged 18-65,
on sick leave from work due to chronic low back pain. They were
randomly assigned to receive traditional care (68 patients) or
integrated care (66 patients).
Integrated care included workplace assessments, treatment with
graded exercise, and reassurance that despite pain, it was safe to
move while increasing activity levels. The goal of integrated care
was to enable a lasting return to work and improve quality of
All the patients in the study were surveyed at regular intervals
over 12 months to assess how often they sought care and how often
they missed work.
The patients in the integrated care group sought health care
less often, had shorter stays in hospital, were more successful in
making a sustained return to work, and had greater improvement in
quality of life.
After one year, total costs in the integrated care group were
$20,477, compared with $28,736 in the usual care group. Further
analysis showed that for every $1.55 spent on integrated care,
there was a return of an estimated $40.44.
The study was published online Nov. 30 in the
British Medical Journal.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
has more about
low back pain.
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