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The impact of chronic pain on direct medical utilization and costs in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Authors Roberts M, Mapel D, Thomson H

Received 6 January 2015

Accepted for publication 16 February 2015

Published 26 March 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 173—184


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Giorgio Lorenzo Colombo

Melissa H Roberts,1 Douglas W Mapel,1 Heather N Thomson2

1Lovelace Clinic Foundation, Albuquerque, NM, USA; 2Endo Pharmaceuticals, Malvern, PA, USA

Objective: To examine how pain affects health care utilization and direct medical costs in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) compared to patients with other chronic diseases.
Study design: A retrospective cohort analysis using administrative data of a managed health care system in the Southwestern US for years 2006–2010.
Methods: COPD patients age ≥40 years were matched to similar patients with other chronic conditions on age, sex, insurance type, and a health care event (outpatient visit, emergency department visit, or inpatient stay). Chronic pain was indicated by pain-associated diagnoses and procedures, or fills for prescription pain medications. The study population was also stratified into those with and without chronic pain to examine clinical factors and costs associated with chronic pain.
Results: Seven thousand nine hundred and fifty-two COPD patients (mean age 69 years, 58% women) were matched to 15,904 patients with other chronic disease. COPD patients had significantly higher utilization for pain-related services and for overall services. COPD patients had a higher prevalence of any pain medication use over a 12-month period (41.2% versus 31.5%) and, among those using pain medications, a higher mean number of pain medication prescription fills (10.1 versus 6.4). Factors associated with chronic pain included age 40–65 years, being female, having more than one chronic morbidity, insurance type, some emergency department or hospital utilization, and having either COPD, heart failure, arthritis, or stroke. Among COPD patients, those with chronic pain had a mean annual direct cost for overall utilization of $24,261 versus $10,390 among those without chronic pain (P<0.0001 for all comparisons).
Conclusion: COPD patients have substantially more utilization for pain medications and pain-related procedures than those with most other chronic diseases. Total direct medical costs among COPD patients who have chronic pain are more than double those of COPD patients without chronic pain. Pain management may be an opportunity for better and more cost-effective care for COPD patients.

Keywords: chronic disease, cost of illness, comorbidity, opioids

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