Assessing patient utilities for varying degrees of low back pain.
RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: We sought to quantify patient preferences for mild, moderate, and severe low back pain via time-tradeoff analysis and utility measurement. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Forty-one patients being treated for low back pain in a tertiary care teaching hospital participated in the study. Patients were asked to decide which of three health states they were currently experiencing as well as which of the three health states was the worst experienced during their lifetime. A time-tradeoff analysis was performed, during which patients were asked the amount of time in each of the health states they would exchange for complete resolution of symptoms. We correlated (1) subjects' current health state with reported utility and (2) degree of previous low back pain with results of time-tradeoff measurements. RESULTS: All patients were willing to trade a greater number of life-years for resolution of symptoms given a more severe perceived health state. Utility decreased as severity of back pain scenarios increased, with an average utility of 0.93 +/- 0.11 for mild, 0.65 +/- 0.21 for moderate, and 0.18 +/- 0.17 for severe pain. No significant difference in time-tradeoff among subjects was identified based upon current health state on the day of interview. A statistically significant difference was seen in patients' willingness to trade time among those who had actually experienced severe pain versus those who had not. Kendall's correlation revealed that subjects who had experienced severe back pain exhibited significantly lower utilities (P < 0.01) compared with subjects who had never experienced severe pain. CONCLUSIONS: As expected, patients with severe low back pain were willing to sacrifice more potential years of life for resolution of symptoms, suggesting time-tradeoff can accurately reflect patient utility. 2. However, we found no correlation between a subject's current health state and reported utility.
Lai, KC; Provenzale, JM; Delong, D; Mukundan, S
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