Direct Costs for Low Back Pain Care in U.K. Are Substantial

Primary care consultations account for the majority of care costs

THURSDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The financial burden of caring for patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP) in the United Kingdom is twice that of caring for patients without CLBP, according to a study published in the Jan. 1 issue of Spine.

Jihyung Hong, Ph.D., from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and colleagues analyzed diagnostic records and pain relief prescription data from the General Practice Research Database to identify CLBP patients (64,167) and matched controls without CLBP (52,986), from January 2007 through December 2009. The first date of CLBP was the index date.

The researchers found that total health care costs for patients with CLBP were double those of the matched controls (£1,074 versus £516; P < 0.05). General practitioners' consultations accounted for 58.8 percent of the cost difference, 22.3 percent was due to referrals to secondary care, and the rest of the cost came from pain relief medications. The records review did not provide the ability to confirm adherence to therapy or assess indirect costs and costs of over-the-counter medications.

"Our findings confirm the substantial economic burden of CLBP, even with direct costs only," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly, which funded the study.

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