Cambridge, MA, Feb. 14, 2023―A new study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) finds that workers’ compensation patients with low back pain reported lower improvements in functional status score following physical therapy than patients covered by other payment systems.

“Patient-reported outcomes have assumed a place of high importance among governmental and non-workers’ compensation payment systems. They are a new way to provide insights into workers’ recoveries and how health care providers or systems deliver patient-centered care,” said John Ruser, WCRI president and CEO. 

The study, Patient-Reported Functional Outcomes after Low Back Pain—A Comparison of Workers’ Compensation and Other Payors, examined the difference in the functional recoveries reported by workers’ compensation patients with low back pain, compared with non-workers’ compensation patients. The study was based on a patient-reported outcome measure that assesses the patient’s functional status during the episode of physical therapy. The study addresses the following questions:

  • What is the functional status score and why was it used in the study?
  • How different was the change in functional status score after treatment for workers’ compensation low back patients compared with non-workers’ compensation patients?
  • What factors explain the difference in the functional recoveries between workers’ compensation and non-workers’ compensation patients?

The data used in this study were collected at first and last visit from a large sample of low back pain patients who received physical therapy in the United States from 2017 to 2021. Sebastian Negrusa, Vennela Thumula, Randall D. Lea, and Te-Chun Liu authored this study. Click here to learn more about this study or to download a copy.

About WCRI

The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is an independent, not-for-profit research organization based in Cambridge, MA. Organized in 1983, the Institute does not take positions on the issues it researches; rather, it provides information obtained through studies and data collection efforts, which conform to recognized scientific methods. Objectivity is further ensured through rigorous, unbiased peer review procedures. WCRI's diverse membership includes employers; insurers; governmental entities; managed care companies; health care providers; insurance regulators; state labor organizations; and state administrative agencies in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.


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