Health seeking behavior as a predictor of healthcare utilization in a population of patients with spinal pain.
BACKGROUND: The global burden of low back pain is growing rapidly, accompanied by increasing rates of associated healthcare utilization. Health seeking behavior (HSB) has been suggested as a mediator of healthcare utilization. The aims of this study were to: 1) develop a proxy HSB measure based on healthcare consumption patterns prior to initial consultation for spinal pain, and 2) examine associations between the proxy HSB measure and future healthcare utilization in a population of patients with spine disorders. METHODS: A cohort of 1,691 patients seeking care for spinal pain at a single military hospital were included. Cluster analyses were performed for the identification of a proxy HSB measure. Logistic regression was used to identify the predictive capacity of HSB on eight different general and spine-related high healthcare utilization (upper 25%) outcomes variables. RESULTS: The strongest proxy measure of HSB was prior primary care provider visits. In unadjusted models, HSB predicted healthcare utilization across all eight general and spine-related outcome variables. After adjusting for covariates, HSB still predicted general and spine-related healthcare utilization for most variables including total medical visits (OR = 2.48, 95%CI 1.09,3.11), total medical costs (OR = 2.72, 95%CI 2.16,3.41), and low back pain-specific costs (OR = 1.31, 95%CI 1.00,1.70). CONCLUSION: Health seeking behavior prior to initial consultation for spine pain was related to healthcare utilization after consultation for spine pain. HSB may be an important variable to consider when developing an individualized care plan and considering the prognosis of a patient.
Clewley, D; Rhon, D; Flynn, T; Koppenhaver, S; Cook, C
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