Using population-based data collected for more than a 2-year period, researchers found four patient categories based on patterns of recurrent non-specific low back pain.
“The four distinct sets of patient experiences have clear implications for research. Inclusion criteria should specify incident or recurrent cases,” the researchers wrote. “A 6-month clean period may not be sufficiently long to assess incidence. Reporting should specify the proportion recovering immediately to prevent mean recovery rates from masking between-group differences. Continuous measurement of pain or disability may be more reliable than measuring outcomes at distinct endpoints.”
Researchers retrospectively identified 65,790 adults who were treated for incident non-specific low back pain. Researchers used the latent class analysis of health-care use during a 27-month period after patients were diagnosed with non-specific low back pain. The analysis sample included 60% of patients, while the validation sample included the remaining patients. Outcome measures of the study included medical, surgical, pharmaceutical and complementary health care and diagnostic services received in inpatient or outpatient and emergency settings.
Researchers identified four different groups of patients. Results showed 53.4% of patients had recovered immediately. Investigators noted one-third of the patients seemed to recover during a 6-month period but maintained a 37% to 48% chance of additional care per subsequent quarter. The other two groups of patients had high chances of needing care each quarter, and this was generally for therapeutic services and pain medication.
According to researchers, there was very high probabilistic grouping relative to alternatives. There was no association between grouping and demographic or clinical characteristics. ‒ by Monica Jaramillo
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.