Disability and disability benefit seeking in chronic low back pain

For the Residency Research Network of Texas Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Numerous studies suggest psychosocial factors contribute to functional disability in patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP). However, less is known about the association of psychosocial factors, such as depression, with seeking medical disability benefits and their prevalence in benefit seekers compared with patients already receiving such payments. Aims: To determine if characteristics of disability benefit seekers differ from patients receiving disability benefits and if both differ from patients not dependent on such payments. Methods: Questionnaire data on pain, health-related quality of life, depression, social support, substance abuse, adverse childhood experiences and disability seeking were obtained from CLBP respondents recruited at 10 primary care clinics throughout Texas. A multinomial logistic regression model was computed using variables significantly associated with disability status and pain severity in univariate models. Results: There were 213 participants. In full models, compared with those not on disability benefits, only depression symptoms were significantly associated with seeking disability benefits (odds ratio [OR] = 1.13; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-1.26) and only duration of pain was significantly associated with being on such benefits (OR = 1.05; 95% CI 1.01-1.09). Conclusions: Patient characteristics differ between disability benefit seekers and those established on disability benefit payments. Depression may be a modifiable correlate of disability benefit seeking that if treated may reduce the number of patients who eventually come to depend on disability benefits. Additional data collection involving other pain syndromes is warranted to determine if these results are unique to CLBP or apply to other painful conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-316
Number of pages8
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Depression
  • Disability
  • Disability benefits
  • Insurance
  • Low back pain
  • Mental ill-health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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