The following is a summary of “Comparison of healthcare utilization, costs and health-related quality of life across the subgroups defined by the Keele STarT MSK Tool,” published in the June 2023 issue of Rheumatology by Oppong, et al.
For a study, researchers sought to analyze and compare various health economic outcomes, including healthcare utilization and costs, work outcomes, and health-related quality of life (measured by EQ-5D-5L), among patients categorized into different levels-of-risk subgroups using the Keele STarT MSK Tool.
The prospective observational cohort study collected healthcare utilization, costs, and EQ-5D-5L data from a healthcare perspective. The study included patients with the most common musculoskeletal pain presentations, including back, neck, shoulder, knee, or multi-site pain. The participants were classified into low, medium, and high-risk subgroups based on their risk of persistent disabling pain. The study compared these subgroups regarding average healthcare utilization and costs, health-related quality of life, and employment status. Regression analysis was utilized to estimate costs.
The results showed that over a 6-month period, the mean total healthcare costs (including both National Health Service and private costs) were £132.92 (SD: 167.88), £279.32 (SD: 462.98), and £476.07 (SD: 716.44) for the low, medium, and high-risk subgroups, respectively. The high-risk subgroup had lower mean health-related quality of life over the 6 months, and a larger proportion of individuals experienced changes in their employment status compared to the medium- and low-risk subgroups.
In conclusion, the study demonstrated that different subgroups of patients with varying levels of risk for poor musculoskeletal pain outcomes also exhibited differences in healthcare utilization, costs, health-related quality of life, and work outcomes. The findings highlighted that the STarT MSK Tool identifies individuals at not only risk of worse outcomes but also those who are likely to have higher healthcare visits and incur greater costs.