A Cost Utility Analysis of Interdisciplinary Early Intervention Versus Treatment as Usual For High-Risk Acute Low Back Pain Patients

Mark D. Rogerson, Robert J. Gatchel, Samuel M. Bierner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Chronic pain is a costly and debilitating condition that has proven difficult to treat, solely with medical interventions, due to the complex interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors in its onset and persistence. Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of interdisciplinary treatment that includes psychosocial interventions for low back pain. Nevertheless, these interventions continue to be under-utilized due to concerns of cost and applicability. The present study utilized a cost utility analysis to evaluate effectiveness and associated costs of interdisciplinary early intervention for individuals with acute low back pain that was identified as high-risk for becoming chronic. Treatment effectiveness was evaluated using a standard pain measure and quality-adjusted life years, and associated medical and employment costs were gathered for 1 year. Results indicated that subjects improved significantly from pretreatment to 1-year follow-up, and that the early intervention group reported fewer health-care visits and missed workdays than the treatment as usual group. The majority of 1,000 bootstrapped samples demonstrated the dominance of the early intervention program as being both more effective and less costly from a societal perspective. The early intervention treatment was the preferred option in over 85% of samples within an established range of acceptable costs. These results are encouraging evidence for the cost-effectiveness of interdisciplinary intervention and the benefits of targeted early treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-395
Number of pages14
JournalPain Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010



  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Early intervention
  • Low back pain
  • QALY
  • Quality-adjusted life years

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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