Integrated Care Cost-Effective for Low Back Pain

Workplace intervention program cuts costs compared to standard care

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- An integrated care program that incorporates workplace ergonomics appears to be a cost-effective alternative to usual care for individuals sick listed due to chronic low back pain, according to research published online Nov. 30 in BMJ.

Ludeke C. Lambeek, of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues randomized 134 sick-listed adults with chronic low back pain to integrated care -- consisting of a workplace intervention based on participatory ergonomics and a graded activity program based on cognitive behavioral principles -- or usual care.

The researchers found that the cost of the integrated care program was significantly lower per participant than usual care, at £13,165 (standard deviation [SD] £13,600) versus £18,475 (SD £13,616). The integrated program was cost-effective in terms of return to work and quality-adjusted life-years gained, and there was an estimated return of £26 for every £1 invested in integrated care.

"Implementation of an integrated care program for patients sick listed with chronic low back pain has a large potential to significantly reduce societal costs, increase effectiveness of care, improve quality of life, and improve function on a broad scale. Integrated care therefore has large gains for patients and society as well as for employers," the authors write.

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