Background: The objective of this study was to estimate the effect of obesity, as measured by body mass index (BMI), on treatment outcomes for low back pain (LBP).
Methods: Data from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Friendly Hills Healthcare Network low back pain study (collected from 1995 to 2000) were used to perform a secondary data analysis of this randomized clinical trial on adults who sought care for LBP. BMI was the primary predictor variable. Binary logistic regression modeling was performed to estimate odds ratios adjusted for the effects of confounders.
Results: Using normal weight as the referent population, underweight and overweight populations did not display significant odds ratios for any of the outcome variables. The obese population demonstrated odds ratios of 0.615 (0.379, 0.998) for improvement of disability and 0.550 (0.341, 0.889) for improvement of most severe back pain.
Conclusion: The results of this study support an association between obesity and less effective treatment outcomes whether measured by disability (Roland-Morris scale) or pain (most severe pain NRS). Overweight and underweight populations do not appear to have significantly different outcomes than normal weight populations.
Keywords: Low back pain—Body mass index—Obesity—Disability—Prognosis
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