Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2016;42(6):520-527    pdf full text


Predicting chronic low-back pain based on pain trajectories in patients in an occupational setting: an exploratory analysis

by Panken G, Hoekstra T, Verhagen A, van Tulder M, Twisk J, Heymans MW

Objective This study aimed to (i) identify subpopulations of patients in an occupational setting who will still have or develop chronic low-back pain (LBP) and (ii) evaluate a previously developed prediction model based on the determined subpopulations.

Method In this prospective cohort, study data were analyzed from three merged randomized controlled trials, conducted in an occupational setting (N=622). Latent class growth analysis (LCGA) was used to distinguish patients with a different course of pain intensity measured over 12 months. The determined subpopulations were used to derive a definition for chronic LBP and evaluate an existing model to predict chronic LBP.

Results The LCGA model identified three subpopulations of LBP patients. These were used to define recovering (353) and chronic (269) patients. None of the interventions showed a relevant treatment effect over another but the rate of decline in symptoms during the first months of the intervention seems to predict recovery. The prediction model, based on this dichotomous outcome, with the variables pain intensity, kinesiophobia and a clinically relevant change in pain intensity and functional status in the first three months, showed a bootstrap-corrected performance with an area under the operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.75 and explained variance of 0.26.

Conclusion In an occupational setting, different subpopulations of chronic LBP patients could be identified using LCGA. The prediction model based on these subpopulations showed a promising predictive performance.

The following article refers to this text: 2018;44(1):47-57