To compare occurrence of repeated disability episodes across types of health care providers who treat claimants with new episodes of work-related low back pain (LBP).
A total of 894 cases followed 1 year using workers’ compensation claims data. Provider types were defined for the initial episode of disability and subsequent episode of health maintenance care.
Controlling for demographics and severity, the hazard ratio [HR] of disability recurrence for patients of physical therapists (HR = 2.0; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.0 to 3.9) or physicians (HR = 1.6; 95% CI = 0.9 to 6.2) was higher than that of chiropractor (referent, HR = 1.0), which was similar to that of the patients non-treated after return to work (HR = 1.2; 95% CI = 0.4 to 3.8).
In work-related nonspecific LBP, the use of health maintenance care provided by physical therapist or physician services was associated with a higher disability recurrence than in chiropractic services or no treatment.