Chronicity of Voice-Related Health Care Utilization in the General Medicine Community

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Abstract

Objectives

To examine voice-related health care utilization of patients in the general medical community without otolaryngology evaluation and explore factors associated with prolonged voice-related health care.

Study Design

Retrospective cohort analysis.

Setting

Large, national administrative US claims database.

Subjects and Methods

Patients with voice disorders per International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2012, seen by a general medical physician, and who did not see an otolaryngologist in the subsequent year were included. Voice-related health care utilization, patient demographics, comorbid conditions, and index laryngeal diagnosis were collected. Logistic regression with variable selection was performed to evaluate the association between predictors and ≥30 days of voice-related health care use.

Results

In total, 46,205 unique voice-disordered patients met inclusion criteria. Of these patients, 8.5%, 10.0%, and 12.5% had voice-related health care use of ≥90, ≥60, and ≥30 days, respectively. Of the ≥30-day subset, 80.3% and 68.5%, respectively, had ≥60 and ≥90 days of voice-related health care utilization. The ≥30-day subset had more general medicine and nonotolaryngology specialty physician visits, more prescriptions and procedures, and 4 times the voice-related health care costs compared with those in the <30-day subset. Age, sex, employment status, initial voice disorder diagnosis, and comorbid conditions were related to ≥30 days of voice-related health care utilization.

Conclusions

Thirty days of nonotolaryngology-based care for a voice disorder may represent a threshold beyond which patients are more likely to experience prolonged voice-related health care utilization. Specific factors were associated with extended voice-related health care.

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