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Chronic low back pain: A comparison of workers' compensation and private insurance patients

1 May 1993


Subjective and objective outcomes for twenty-five chronic back pain patients were assessed retrospectively by chart review at two physical therapy work conditioning programs. Thirteen patients had received workers' compensation while in therapy and twelve were receiving private insurance coverage. Demographic assessments revealed that 92.3% of the workers' compensation group was comprised of men, as compared to 16.7% in the private insurance group. On subjective pain measures, no significant differences were found between groups; but on self-rated function measures, the private insurance group showed a significantly higher increase in ability to perform activities of daily living than the workers' compensation group (p=.078). On objective measures, no statistically significant differences in lumbopelvic flexibility, strength, and overall endurance were found between groups. Correlational assessments of subjective and objective measures also revealed similar trends between groups. Both groups demonstrated fairly strong inverse correlational relationships between pain surface area and overall endurance levels (R = -.801 for the private insurance group, R = -.650 for the workers' compensation group). There was also a fairly strong correlational relationship between self-rated functional ability and lumbopelvic flexibility for both groups (R = .787 for the private insurance group, R = .573 for the workers' compensation group). These results suggest that many rehabilitative outcomes for patients with workers' compensation are similar to those with private insurance.


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