Current practice and usual care of major cervical disorders in Korea: A cross-sectional study of Korean health insurance review and assessment service national patient sample data

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Abstract

Neck pain is a highly common condition and is the 4th major cause of years lived with disability. Previous literature has focused on the effect of specific treatments, and observations of actual practice are lacking to date. This study examined Korean health insurance review and assessment service (HIRA) claims data to the aim of assessing prevalence and comparing current medical practice and costs of cervical disorders in Korea.

Current practice trends were determined through assessment of prevalence, total expenses, per-patient expense, average days in care, average days of visits, sociodemographic characteristics, distribution of medical costs, and frequency of treatment types of high frequency cervical disorders (cervical sprain/strain, cervical intervertebral disc displacement [IDD], and cervicalgia).

Although the number of cervical IDD patients was few, total expenses, per-patient expense, average days in care, and average days of visits were highest. The proportion of women was higher than men in all 3 groups with highest prevalence in the ≥50s middle-aged population for IDD compared to sprain/strain. Primary care settings were commonly used for ambulatory care, of which approximately 70% chose orthopedic specialist treatment. In analysis of medical expenditure distribution, costs of visit (consultation) (22%–34%) and physical therapy (14%–16%) were in the top 3 for all 3 disorders. Although heat and electrical therapies were the most frequently used physical therapies, traction use was high in the cervical IDD group. In nonnarcotics, aceclofenac and diclofenac were the most commonly used NSAIDs, and pethidine was their counterpart in narcotics.

This study investigated practice trends and cost distribution of treatment regimens for major cervical disorders, providing current usage patterns to healthcare policy decision makers, and the detailed treatment reports are expected to be of use to clinicians and researchers in understanding current usual care.

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