Effect of integrated care for sick listed patients with chronic low back pain: economic evaluation alongside a randomised controlled trial

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the cost effectiveness, cost utility, and cost-benefit of an integrated care programme compared with usual care for sick listed patients with chronic low back pain. DESIGN: Economic evaluation alongside a randomised controlled trial with 12 months' follow-up. Setting Primary care (10 physiotherapy practices, one occupational health service, one occupational therapy practice) and secondary care (five hospitals) in the Netherlands, 2005-9. PARTICIPANTS: 134 adults aged 18-65 sick listed because of chronic low back pain: 66 were randomised to integrated care and 68 to usual care. INTERVENTIONS: Integrated care consisted of a workplace intervention based on participatory ergonomics, with involvement of a supervisor, and a graded activity programme based on cognitive behavioural principles. Usual care was provided by general practitioners and occupational physicians according to Dutch guidelines. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome was duration until sustainable return to work. The secondary outcome was quality adjusted life years (QALYs), measured using EuroQol. RESULTS: Total costs in the integrated care group (£13 165, SD £13 600) were significantly lower than in the usual care group (£18 475, SD £13 616). Cost effectiveness planes and acceptability curves showed that integrated care was cost effective compared with usual care for return to work and QALYs gained. The cost-benefit analyses showed that every £1 invested in integrated care would return an estimated £26. The net societal benefit of integrated care compared with usual care was £5744. CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of an integrated care programme for patients sick listed with chronic low back pain has a large potential to significantly reduce societal costs, increase effectiveness of care, improve quality of life, and improve function on a broad scale. Integrated care therefore has large gains for patients and society as well as for employers.

Source: http://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c6414 (open access)

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