2023 NOV 20 (NewsRx) — By a
“Background. Chronic low back pain (cLBP) is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Current treatments have minor or moderate effects, partly because of the idiopathic nature of most cLBP cases, the complexity of its presentation, and heterogeneity in the population. Explaining this complexity and heterogeneity by identifying subgroups of patients is critical for personalized health. Clinical decisions tailoring treatment to patients subgroup characteristics and specific treatment responses can improve health outcomes. Current patient stratification tools divide cases into subgroups based on a small subset of characteristics, which may not capture many factors determining patient phenotypes. Methods and Findings.
“In this study, we use an unsupervised machine learning framework to identify patient subgroups within a specialized back pain clinic and evaluate their outcomes.
“Our analysis identified 25 latent factors determining patient phenotypes and found three distinctive clusters of patients. The research suggests that there is heterogeneity in the population of patients treated in a specialty setting and that several factors determine patient phenotypes. Cluster 1 consists of those individuals with characteristics found to be protective of chronic pain: younger age, low pain medication prescription, high function, good insurance access, and low overlapping pain conditions. Individuals in Cluster 3 associate with older age and present with a higher incidence of chronic overlapping pain conditions, comorbidities, and pain medication use. Cluster 2 is an intermediate group. Conclusions. We quantify cLBP population heterogeneity and demonstrate how ML analytical workflow can be used to explain, in part, this heterogeneity in relation to outcomes. Notably, considering a data-driven approach from multi-domain data produces different subgroups than the STarT back screening tool, and the addition of other functional metrics at baseline such as global physical and mental function, and pain intensity, increases the variance explained in outcomes.
“Our study provides novel insights into the complex nature of cLBP and the potential for data-driven methods to identify clinically relevant subtypes.”
This preprint has not been peer-reviewed.
For more information on this research see: http://medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.11.04.23298104v1
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