Background: Chronic spinal pain conditions affect millions of US adults and carry a high healthcare cost burden, both direct and indirect. Conservative interventions for spinal pain conditions, including chiropractic care, have been associated with lower healthcare costs and improvements in pain status in different clinical populations, including veterans. Little is currently known about predicting healthcare service utilization in the domain of conservative interventions for spinal pain conditions, including the frequency of use of chiropractic services. The purpose of this retrospective cohort study was to explore the use of supervised machine learning approaches to predicting one-year chiropractic service utilization by veterans receiving VA chiropractic care.
Methods: We included 19,946 veterans who entered the Musculoskeletal Diagnosis Cohort between October 1, 2003 and September 30, 2013 and utilized VA chiropractic services within one year of cohort entry. The primary outcome was one-year chiropractic service utilization following index chiropractic visit, split into quartiles represented by the following classes: 1 visit, 2 to 3 visits, 4 to 6 visits, and 7 or greater visits. We compared the performance of four multiclass classification algorithms (gradient boosted classifier, stochastic gradient descent classifier, support vector classifier, and artificial neural network) in predicting visit quartile using 158 sociodemographic and clinical features.
Results: The selected algorithms demonstrated poor prediction capabilities. Subset accuracy was 42.1% for the gradient boosted classifier, 38.6% for the stochastic gradient descent classifier, 41.4% for the support vector classifier, and 40.3% for the artificial neural network. The micro-averaged area under the precision-recall curve for each one-versus-rest classifier was 0.43 for the gradient boosted classifier, 0.38 for the stochastic gradient descent classifier, 0.43 for the support vector classifier, and 0.42 for the artificial neural network. Performance of each model yielded only a small positive shift in prediction probability (approximately 15%) compared to naïve classification.
Conclusions: Using supervised machine learning to predict chiropractic service utilization remains challenging, with only a small shift in predictive probability over naïve classification and limited clinical utility. Future work should examine mechanisms to improve model performance.
Author keywords: Machine learning — Predictive Modeling — Chiropractic — Healthcare service utilization
Author affiliations: Pain Research, Informatics, Multimorbidities, and Education (PRIME) Center, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Connecticut; Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States
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