Comorbidity Subgroups among Medicare Beneficiaries Seeking Health Care for Musculoskeletal Pain.

Published online

Journal Article

Background: Treatment of musculoskeletal pain in older adults may be more effective if it incorporates integrated management of comorbid health conditions. The purpose of this study was to define empirically derived comorbidity subgroups among Medicare beneficiaries with an index condition of osteoarthritis or low back pain as a precursor to the development of comorbidity-specific pain treatment pathways. Methods: This study included Medicare beneficiaries participating in the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) and seeking care for osteoarthritis (OA, n=723) or low back pain (LBP, n=617) with data available for three years after entry into the survey. We identified 30 comorbidity diagnoses using ICD-9-CM diagnostic codes in claims data during beneficiaries' first year in the survey. Latent class analysis (LCA) defined comorbidity subgroups and posterior probabilities were used to assign subgroup classification. Self-reported disability was compared over three consecutive years for each subgroup. Results: We identified similar comorbidity subgroups for OA and LBP. The subgroups included (range of % prevalence): low comorbidity (47.6-54.4%), non-vascular (21.8-28.6%), diabetes (12.2-15.0%), renal disease with complicated hypertension (5.5-5.8%), and complex cardiac disease/high comorbidity (3.3-5.8%). OA and LBP subgroups with more complex comorbidity burden generally demonstrated higher disability over three years. Conclusions: Five comorbidity subgroups were identified, with a large proportion of older adults classified into the subgroup defined by a low probability of most comorbidities. These findings provide direction for the development of pain treatment pathways that are tailored to address common comorbidity profiles among older adults.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lentz, TA; Marlow, NM; Beneciuk, JM; Fillingim, RB; George, SZ

Published Date

  • August 27, 2018

Published In

PubMed ID

  • 30165549

Pubmed Central ID

  • 30165549

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1758-535X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/gerona/gly202


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States