Objective: Compare health care utilization and charges for low-back-pain (LBP) patients receiving advanced imaging or physical therapy as a first management strategy following a new primary care consultation.
Data source: Electronic medical record (EMR) and insurance claims data.
Study design: Retrospective analysis of propensity-matched groups.
Data collection/extraction: Claims and EMR data were used. Utilization and LBP-related charges over a 1-year period were extracted from claims data.
Principal findings: In the propensity-matched sample (n = 406), advanced imaging recipients had higher odds of all utilization outcomes. Charges were higher with advanced imaging by an average $4,793 (95 percent CI: $3,676, $5,910).
Conclusions: For patients with LBP whom newly consulted primary care referred for additional management, advanced imaging as a first management was associated with higher health care utilization and charges than physical therapy.
Keywords: Physical therapy; imaging; low back pain; primary care.
© Health Research and Educational Trust.