Risk Factors Associated With Transition From Acute to Chronic Low Back Pain in US Patients Seeking Primary Care.

Abstract

Importance

Acute low back pain (LBP) is highly prevalent, with a presumed favorable prognosis; however, once chronic, LBP becomes a disabling and expensive condition. Acute to chronic LBP transition rates vary widely owing to absence of standardized operational definitions, and it is unknown whether a standardized prognostic tool (ie, Subgroups for Targeted Treatment Back tool [SBT]) can estimate this transition or whether early non-guideline concordant treatment is associated with the transition to chronic LBP.

Objective

To assess the associations between the transition from acute to chronic LBP with SBT risk strata; demographic, clinical, and practice characteristics; and guideline nonconcordant processes of care.

Design, setting, and participants

This inception cohort study was conducted alongside a multisite, pragmatic cluster randomized trial. Adult patients with acute LBP stratified by SBT risk were enrolled in 77 primary care practices in 4 regions across the United States between May 2016 and June 2018 and followed up for 6 months, with final follow-up completed by March 2019. Data analysis was conducted from January to March 2020.

Exposures

SBT risk strata and early LBP guideline nonconcordant processes of care (eg, receipt of opioids, imaging, and subspecialty referral).

Main outcomes and measures

Transition from acute to chronic LBP at 6 months using the National Institutes of Health Task Force on Research Standards consensus definition of chronic LBP. Patient demographic characteristics, clinical factors, and LBP process of care were obtained via electronic medical records.

Results

Overall, 5233 patients with acute LBP (3029 [58%] women; 4353 [83%] White individuals; mean [SD] age 50.6 [16.9] years; 1788 [34%] low risk; 2152 [41%] medium risk; and 1293 [25%] high risk) were included. Overall transition rate to chronic LBP at six months was 32% (1666 patients). In a multivariable model, SBT risk stratum was positively associated with transition to chronic LBP (eg, high-risk vs low-risk groups: adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.45; 95% CI, 2.00-2.98; P < .001). Patient and clinical characteristics associated with transition to chronic LBP included obesity (aOR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.28-1.80; P < .001); smoking (aOR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.29-1.89; P < .001); severe and very severe baseline disability (aOR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.48-2.24; P < .001 and aOR, 2.08; 95% CI, 1.60-2.68; P < .001, respectively) and diagnosed depression/anxiety (aOR, 1.66; 95% CI, 1.28-2.15; P < .001). After controlling for all other variables, patients exposed to 1, 2, or 3 nonconcordant processes of care within the first 21 days were 1.39 (95% CI, 1.21-2.32), 1.88 (95% CI, 1.53-2.32), and 2.16 (95% CI, 1.10-4.25) times more likely to develop chronic LBP compared with those with no exposure (P < .001).

Conclusions and relevance

In this cohort study, the transition rate to chronic LBP was substantial and increased correspondingly with SBT stratum and early exposure to guideline nonconcordant care.

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Citation

Published Version (Please cite this version)

10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.37371

Publication Info

Stevans, Joel M, Anthony Delitto, Samannaaz S Khoja, Charity G Patterson, Clair N Smith, Michael J Schneider, Janet K Freburger, Carol M Greco, et al. (2021). Risk Factors Associated With Transition From Acute to Chronic Low Back Pain in US Patients Seeking Primary Care. JAMA network open, 4(2). p. e2037371. 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.37371 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/22403.

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.

Scholars@Duke

George

Steven Zachary George

Laszlo Ormandy Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

Dr. George’s primary interest is research involving biopsychosocial models for the prevention and treatment of chronic musculoskeletal pain disorders.  His long term goals are to 1) improve accuracy for predicting who is going to develop chronic pain; and 2) identify non-pharmacological treatment options that limit the development of chronic pain conditions.  Dr. George is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association, United States Association of the Study of Pain, and International Association for the Study of Pain. 

Dr. George’s research projects have been supported by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and Orthopaedic Academy of the American Physical Therapy Association.  Dr. George and his collaborators have authored over 300 peer-reviewed publications in leading medical, orthopaedic surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and pain research journals.  He currently serves as Deputy Editor for Physical Therapy and is an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Pain. Dr. George has also been involved with clinical practice guideline development for the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy and the American Psychological Association. 

Dr. George has been recognized with prestigious research awards from the American Physical Therapy Association, American Pain Society, and International Association for the Study of Pain. For example from the American Physical Therapy Association: he was named the  21st John H.P. Maley Lecturer, recognized as a Catherine Worthingham Fellow in 2017, and selected for the Marian Williams Award for Research in Physical Therapy in 2022.    


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