Objectives: Chronic low-back pain (CLBP) is burdensome and costly, and a common condition for which adults use integrative therapies. The effectiveness of multidisciplinary integrative approaches has not been well studied. The purpose of this observational study was to compare characteristics and outcomes of CLBP patients treated at the Osher Clinical Center (OCC) versus other clinics at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Design: Observational comparative effectiveness study.
Setting: Tertiary care hospital.
Subjects: Patients ≥21 years with 3+ months of CLBP or 6+ months of intermittent low-back pain.
Intervention: All patients were observed for 12 months. OCC patients received care at the integrative clinic (7.3 visits on average over 13 weeks); non-OCC patients received usual care at other clinics of the same hospital.
Outcome measures: Primary outcomes: change from baseline to 6 months in functional status (Roland Disability Questionnaire [RDQ]) and bothersomeness of pain (BOP).
Secondary outcomes: change in RDQ and BOP at 3 and 12 months, percentages of patients with clinically meaningful (≥30%) improvements.
Results: One hundred fifty-six OCC and 153 non-OCC participants were enrolled; follow-up was 90.4 and 98.0%, respectively, at 12 months. There were substantial differences in baseline characteristics between groups. For RDQ, the adjusted mean group difference was nonsignificant at 6 months; for BOP, the differences were significant, but clinically small. At 12 months, the observed benefit on RDQ was significant and clinically meaningful; for BOP, there were significant, but clinically small differences. Percentages of patients with ≥30% improvements in RDQ were significantly greater in the OCC group only at 12 months, and both 6 and 12 months for BOP.
Conclusions: Baseline characteristics can differ between those who select different sources of healthcare for CLBP. While benefits seen in the OCC versus non-OCC clinics were not large, further evaluation through randomized trials might be warranted to provide a more definitive evaluation.
Keywords: chronic low-back pain; disability; integrative medicine; interdisciplinary care; pain bothersomeness; pragmatic study.