Scientific Articles   |    
Unremitting Health-Care-Utilization Outcomes of Tertiary Rehabilitation of Patients with Chronic Musculoskeletal Disorders
Timothy J. Proctor, PhD1; Tom G. Mayer, MD1; Robert J. Gatchel, PhD2; Don D. McGeary, PhD1
1 PRIDE Research Foundation, 5701 Maple Avenue, Suite 100, Dallas, TX 75235. E-mail address for T.G. Mayer: tmayerpestes50@aol.com
2 Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75390-9044
View Disclosures and Other Information
In support of their research or preparation of this work, one or more of the authors received National Institutes of Health Grants 2K02 MH01107, 2R01 MH46402, and 401 DE10713. None of the authors received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, educational institution, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors are affiliated or associated.
Investigation performed at the Productive Rehabilitation Institute of Dallas for Ergonomics (PRIDE), Dallas, Texas

The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2004 Jan 01;86(1):62-69
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Background: Unremitting health-care-seeking behaviors have only infrequently been addressed in the literature as an outcome of treatment for chronic disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The limited research has never focused on the patient as the "driver" of health-care utilization, to our knowledge. As a result, little attention has been paid to the differences between treated patients who seek additional health care from a new provider and those who do not. The purpose of this project was to examine the demographic and socioeconomic outcome variables that characterize patients with a chronic disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorder who pursue additional health-care services from a new provider following the completion of a tertiary rehabilitation treatment program. A prospective comparison cohort design was employed to assess characteristics and outcomes of these patients, all of whom were treated with the same interdisciplinary protocol.

Methods: A cohort of 1316 patients who had been consecutively treated with a rehabilitation program for functional restoration was divided into two groups on the basis of whether they had sought treatment from a new health-care provider in the year following completion of treatment. Group 0 (966 patients) did not visit a new health-care provider for treatment of their original occupational injury, and Group 1 (350 patients) visited a new provider on at least one occasion. A structured clinical interview to assess socioeconomic outcomes was carried out one year after discharge from the treatment program; this interview addressed pain, health-care utilization, work status, recurrent injury, and whether the Workers' Compensation case had been closed.

Results: The percentage of Group-0 patients who had undergone pre-rehabilitation surgery was significantly lower than the percentage of Group-1 patients who had done so (12% compared with 21%, odds ratio = 1.9 [95% confidence interval = 1.3, 2.7]; p < 0.001). One year after treatment, 90% of the Group-0 patients had returned to work compared with only 78% of the Group-1 patients (odds ratio = 2.6 [95% confidence interval, 1.9, 3.6]; p < 0.001). Similarly, 88% of the Group-0 patients were still working at one year compared with only 62% of the patients in Group 1 (odds ratio = 4.5 [95% confidence interval, 3.3, 6.0]; p < 0.001). Whereas 96% of the Group-0 patients had resolved all related legal and/or financial disputes by one year, only 77% of the Group-1 patients had done so (odds ratio = 6.9 [95% confidence interval, 4.5, 10.5]; p < 0.001). Only a negligible percentage (0.4%) of the patients in Group 0 had undergone a new operation at the site of the original injury, whereas 12% of the Group-1 patients had done so (odds ratio = 31.0 [95% confidence interval, 11.0, 87.3]; p < 0.001). When the above outcome variables were analyzed by dividing Group 1 according to the number of visits to a new service provider, there was a trend for poorer socioeconomic outcomes to be associated with an increasing number of health-care visits.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, the present study represents the first large-scale examination of patients with a chronic disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorder who persist in seeking health-care following the completion of tertiary rehabilitation. The results demonstrate that about 25% of patients with a chronic disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorder pursue new health-care services after completing a course of treatment, and this subgroup accounts for a significant proportion of lost worker productivity, unremitting disability payments, and excess health-care consumption.

Level of Evidence: Prognostic study, Level I-1 (prospective study). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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