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Ger Med Sci


Subgroups in chronic low back pain patients – a step toward cluster-based, tailored treatment in inpatient standard care: On the need for precise targeting of treatment for chronic low back pain.


Langenmaier A-M, Amelung V E, Karst M, Krauth C, Püschner F, Urbanski D, Schiessl C, Thoma R, Klasen B
Ger Med Sci. 2019; 17:Doc09.
PMID: 31728134.


The purpose of this study was to find applicable clusters for the development of different treatment pathways in an inpatient multimodal pain-therapy setting based on the multifaceted nature of CLBP. Based on data of questionnaires (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Marburg Questionnaire on Habitual Health Findings (MFHW), quality of life assessment using the Short-Form 12 (SF 12)), a retrospective two-step cluster analysis involving a sample of chronic low back pain (CLBP) patients (N=320) was calculated. Subsequently, the clusters were precisely described and compared on the basis of further data collected during the patients' standard care: pain characteristics, socio-demographic data and the general state of health, psychological variables, therapy intensity, and Diagnosis Related Groups (DRG) data. We found a three-cluster solution: little psychological interference but marginal physical and mental quality of life (Cluster 1); poor well-being, low physical quality of life, and marginal mental quality of life (Cluster 2); and heavy mental strain and marginal physical quality of life (Cluster 3). Similar to previous studies, our results suggest that patients suffering from CLBP differ with regard to the magnitude of mental burden and the presence of physical impairment. These differences ascertain the need for precise targeting of treatment for CLBP. Inpatient pain centers therefore should offer different multimodal therapy pathways and integrate a meaningful triage, taking into account the multifaceted nature of CLBP based on sophisticated knowledge about forms, differences, and relationships among the biopsychosocial components of CLBP.