Factors associated with persistently high-cost health care utilization for musculoskeletal pain.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Musculoskeletal pain conditions incur high costs and produce significant personal and public health consequences, including disability and opioid-related mortality. Persistence of high-cost health care utilization for musculoskeletal pain may help identify system inefficiencies that could limit value of care. The objective of this study was to identify factors associated with persistent high-cost utilization among individuals seeking health care for musculoskeletal pain. METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data (2008-2013) that included a non-institutionalized, population-based sample of individuals seeking health care for a musculoskeletal pain condition (n = 12,985). Expenditures associated with musculoskeletal pain conditions over two consecutive years were analyzed from prescribed medicine, office-based medical provider visits, outpatient department visits, emergency room visits, inpatient hospital stays, and home health visits. Persistent high-cost utilization was defined as being in the top 15th percentile for annual musculoskeletal pain-related expenditures over 2 consecutive years. We used multinomial regression to determine which modifiable and non-modifiable sociodemographic, health, and pain-related variables were associated with persistent high-cost utilization. RESULTS: Approximately 35% of direct costs for musculoskeletal pain were concentrated among the 4% defined as persistent high-cost utilizers. Non-modifiable variables associated with expenditure group classification included age, race, poverty level, geographic region, insurance status, diagnosis type and total number of musculoskeletal pain diagnoses. Modifiable variables associated with increased risk of high expenditure classification were higher number of missed work days, greater pain interference, and higher use of prescription medication for pain, while higher self-reported physical and mental health were associated with lower risk of high expenditure classification. CONCLUSIONS: Health care delivery models that prospectively identify these potentially modifiable factors may improve the costs and value of care for individuals with musculoskeletal pain prone to risk for high-cost care episodes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

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

Published Date

  • 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 / 11

Start / End Page

  • e0225125 -

PubMed ID

  • 31710655

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6844454

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0225125


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States