Clinical study|Articles in Press

The role of socioeconomic factors as barriers to patient reported outcome measure completion following lumbar spine fusion



      Although incorporating patient reported outcomes (PROMs) into practice allows healthcare systems to evaluate the value of care provided, research and policy reflecting PROMs can only be valid if they represent all patients. Few studies have evaluated socioeconomic barriers to PROM completion, and none have done so in a spine patient population.


      To identify patient barriers to PROM completion one year following lumbar spine fusion.


      Retrospective single-institution cohort study.


      A total of 2,984 patients undergoing lumbar fusion between 2014 and 2020


      Completion of Mental Component Score (MCS-12) and Physical Component Score (PCS-12) of Short Form-12 questionnaire 1 year postoperatively


      A retrospective review was conducted of all patients undergoing 1-3-level lumbar fusion at a single urban tertiary center. PROMs were queried from our prospectively managed electronic outcomes database. Patients were considered to have complete PROMs if 1-year outcomes were available. Community-level characteristics were collected from patients’ zip codes using the Economic Innovation Group Distressed Communities Index. Bivariate analyses were performed to assess factors associated with PROM incompletion along with multivariate logistic regression to control for confounders.


      A total of 1,968 (66.0%) had incomplete 1-year PROMs. Patients with incomplete PROMs were more likely to be Black (14.5% vs. 9.3%, p<.001), Hispanic (2.9% vs. 1.6%, p=.027), reside in a distressed community (14.7% vs. 8.5%, p<.001), and be active smokers (22.4% vs. 15.5%, p<.001). On multivariate regression, Black race (OR: 1.46, p=.014, Hispanic ethnicity (OR: 2.19, p=.027), distressed community status (OR: 1.47, p=.024), workers’ compensation status (OR: 2.82, p=.001), and active smoking (OR:1.31, p=.034) all were independently associated with PROM incompletion. Surgical characteristics, including primary surgeon, revision status, approach, and levels fused were not associated with PROM incompletion.


      Social determinants of health impact completion of PROMs. Patients completing PROMs are overwhelmingly White, non-Hispanic, and reside in wealthier communities. Efforts should be taken to provide better education regarding PROMs and ensure closer follow-up of certain subgroups of patients to avoid furthering disparities in PROM research.


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