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. 1999 Sep;82(3):275-82.
doi: 10.1016/s0304-3959(99)00055-x.

Utilisation of Health Care System by Chronic Pain Patients Who Applied for Disability Pensions

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Utilisation of Health Care System by Chronic Pain Patients Who Applied for Disability Pensions

J Højsted et al. Pain. .

Abstract

The objective of this study was to investigate how economic compensation for disability (disability pensions) to chronic pain patients affected their utilisation of health care services. The study was carried out as a register investigation. Inclusion of 144 study patients was based on records from 1989 and 1990 of the Rehabilitation and Pension Board in the Municipality of Copenhagen. Only patients of Danish origin with chronic non-malignant pain were included. The study period was divided into three: Subperiod 1: The year preceding the submission of the application for a disability pension. Subperiod 2: The period from the submission of the application to the decision was made. Subperiod 3: The year following the final decision of the health authorities. The patients were divided into 4 Subgroups according to whether disability pensions was awarded or rejected, or whether the patients accepted or appealed the decision. Based on number and charges of visits to the GPs the total costs of care in the primary sector were calculated. By means of number of bed days, visits to outpatients clinics, operations, blood samples, and various investigations, the total costs of hospital care were calculated. We found that application for a disability pension in chronic pain patients significantly influenced the health care utilisation. Chronic pain patients had a significantly lower health care utilisation after receiving a disability pension than before the pension was awarded. Chronic pain patients who did not get a disability pension and those who were not satisfied with the level of the pension awarded, maintained their health care utilisation after the decision. The mean health care use by the patients who appealed the level of the pension was three times higher than the mean health care use by the patients who accepted the level of the pension awarded. The study may indicate that lack of or insufficient economic compensation from the social system in chronic pain patients contribute to an inexpedient pain behaviour resulting in increased expenses for the health care sector.

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