Factors Influencing Primary Care Providers’ Unneeded Lumbar Spine MRI Orders for Acute, Uncomplicated Low-Back Pain: a Qualitative Study

Andrea L. Nevedal, Eleanor T. Lewis, Justina Wu, Josephine Jacobs, Jeffrey G. Jarvik, Roger Chou, Paul G. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Clinical practice guidelines suggest that magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine (LS-MRI) is unneeded during the first 6 weeks of acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Unneeded LS-MRIs do not improve patient outcomes, lead to unnecessary surgeries and procedures, and cost the US healthcare system about $300 million dollars per year. However, why primary care providers (PCPs) order unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain is poorly understood. Objective: To characterize and explain the factors contributing to PCPs ordering unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Design: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Participants: Veterans Affairs PCPs identified from administrative data as having high or low rates of guideline-concordant LS-MRI ordering in 2016. Approach: Providers were interviewed about their use of LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain and factors contributing to their decision-making. Directed content analysis of transcripts was conducted to identify and compare environmental-, patient-, and provider-level factors contributing to unneeded LS-MRI. Key Results: Fifty-five PCPs participated (8.6% response rate). Both low (n = 33) and high (n = 22) guideline-concordant providers reported that LS-MRIs were required for specialty care referrals, but they differed in how other environmental factors (stringency of radiology utilization review, management of patient travel burden, and time constraints) contributed to LS-MRI ordering patterns. Low- and high-guideline-concordant providers reported similar patient factors (beliefs in value of imaging and pressure on providers). However, provider groups differed in how provider-level factors (guideline familiarity and agreement, the extent to which they acquiesced to patients, and belief in the value of LS-MRI) contributed to LS-MRI ordering patterns. Conclusions: Results describe how diverse environmental, patient, and provider factors contribute to unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Prior research using a single intervention to reduce unneeded LS-MRI has been ineffective. Results suggest that multifaceted de-implementation strategies may be required to reduce unneeded LS-MRI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

Low Back Pain
Primary Health Care
Spine
Guidelines
Unnecessary Procedures
Utilization Review
Veterans
Practice Guidelines
Radiology
Decision Making
Referral and Consultation
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Interviews
Delivery of Health Care
Pressure
Costs and Cost Analysis
Research

Keywords

  • de-implementation
  • low-back pain
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • primary care providers
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

Cite this

Factors Influencing Primary Care Providers’ Unneeded Lumbar Spine MRI Orders for Acute, Uncomplicated Low-Back Pain : a Qualitative Study. / Nevedal, Andrea L.; Lewis, Eleanor T.; Wu, Justina; Jacobs, Josephine; Jarvik, Jeffrey G.; Chou, Roger; Barnett, Paul G.

In: Journal of general internal medicine, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Nevedal, Andrea L. ; Lewis, Eleanor T. ; Wu, Justina ; Jacobs, Josephine ; Jarvik, Jeffrey G. ; Chou, Roger ; Barnett, Paul G. / Factors Influencing Primary Care Providers’ Unneeded Lumbar Spine MRI Orders for Acute, Uncomplicated Low-Back Pain : a Qualitative Study. In: Journal of general internal medicine. 2019.
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abstract = "Background: Clinical practice guidelines suggest that magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine (LS-MRI) is unneeded during the first 6 weeks of acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Unneeded LS-MRIs do not improve patient outcomes, lead to unnecessary surgeries and procedures, and cost the US healthcare system about $300 million dollars per year. However, why primary care providers (PCPs) order unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain is poorly understood. Objective: To characterize and explain the factors contributing to PCPs ordering unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Design: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Participants: Veterans Affairs PCPs identified from administrative data as having high or low rates of guideline-concordant LS-MRI ordering in 2016. Approach: Providers were interviewed about their use of LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain and factors contributing to their decision-making. Directed content analysis of transcripts was conducted to identify and compare environmental-, patient-, and provider-level factors contributing to unneeded LS-MRI. Key Results: Fifty-five PCPs participated (8.6{\%} response rate). Both low (n = 33) and high (n = 22) guideline-concordant providers reported that LS-MRIs were required for specialty care referrals, but they differed in how other environmental factors (stringency of radiology utilization review, management of patient travel burden, and time constraints) contributed to LS-MRI ordering patterns. Low- and high-guideline-concordant providers reported similar patient factors (beliefs in value of imaging and pressure on providers). However, provider groups differed in how provider-level factors (guideline familiarity and agreement, the extent to which they acquiesced to patients, and belief in the value of LS-MRI) contributed to LS-MRI ordering patterns. Conclusions: Results describe how diverse environmental, patient, and provider factors contribute to unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Prior research using a single intervention to reduce unneeded LS-MRI has been ineffective. Results suggest that multifaceted de-implementation strategies may be required to reduce unneeded LS-MRI.",
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AU - Nevedal, Andrea L.

AU - Lewis, Eleanor T.

AU - Wu, Justina

AU - Jacobs, Josephine

AU - Jarvik, Jeffrey G.

AU - Chou, Roger

AU - Barnett, Paul G.

PY - 2019/1/1

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N2 - Background: Clinical practice guidelines suggest that magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine (LS-MRI) is unneeded during the first 6 weeks of acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Unneeded LS-MRIs do not improve patient outcomes, lead to unnecessary surgeries and procedures, and cost the US healthcare system about $300 million dollars per year. However, why primary care providers (PCPs) order unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain is poorly understood. Objective: To characterize and explain the factors contributing to PCPs ordering unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Design: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Participants: Veterans Affairs PCPs identified from administrative data as having high or low rates of guideline-concordant LS-MRI ordering in 2016. Approach: Providers were interviewed about their use of LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain and factors contributing to their decision-making. Directed content analysis of transcripts was conducted to identify and compare environmental-, patient-, and provider-level factors contributing to unneeded LS-MRI. Key Results: Fifty-five PCPs participated (8.6% response rate). Both low (n = 33) and high (n = 22) guideline-concordant providers reported that LS-MRIs were required for specialty care referrals, but they differed in how other environmental factors (stringency of radiology utilization review, management of patient travel burden, and time constraints) contributed to LS-MRI ordering patterns. Low- and high-guideline-concordant providers reported similar patient factors (beliefs in value of imaging and pressure on providers). However, provider groups differed in how provider-level factors (guideline familiarity and agreement, the extent to which they acquiesced to patients, and belief in the value of LS-MRI) contributed to LS-MRI ordering patterns. Conclusions: Results describe how diverse environmental, patient, and provider factors contribute to unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Prior research using a single intervention to reduce unneeded LS-MRI has been ineffective. Results suggest that multifaceted de-implementation strategies may be required to reduce unneeded LS-MRI.

AB - Background: Clinical practice guidelines suggest that magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine (LS-MRI) is unneeded during the first 6 weeks of acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Unneeded LS-MRIs do not improve patient outcomes, lead to unnecessary surgeries and procedures, and cost the US healthcare system about $300 million dollars per year. However, why primary care providers (PCPs) order unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain is poorly understood. Objective: To characterize and explain the factors contributing to PCPs ordering unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Design: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Participants: Veterans Affairs PCPs identified from administrative data as having high or low rates of guideline-concordant LS-MRI ordering in 2016. Approach: Providers were interviewed about their use of LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain and factors contributing to their decision-making. Directed content analysis of transcripts was conducted to identify and compare environmental-, patient-, and provider-level factors contributing to unneeded LS-MRI. Key Results: Fifty-five PCPs participated (8.6% response rate). Both low (n = 33) and high (n = 22) guideline-concordant providers reported that LS-MRIs were required for specialty care referrals, but they differed in how other environmental factors (stringency of radiology utilization review, management of patient travel burden, and time constraints) contributed to LS-MRI ordering patterns. Low- and high-guideline-concordant providers reported similar patient factors (beliefs in value of imaging and pressure on providers). However, provider groups differed in how provider-level factors (guideline familiarity and agreement, the extent to which they acquiesced to patients, and belief in the value of LS-MRI) contributed to LS-MRI ordering patterns. Conclusions: Results describe how diverse environmental, patient, and provider factors contribute to unneeded LS-MRI for acute, uncomplicated low-back pain. Prior research using a single intervention to reduce unneeded LS-MRI has been ineffective. Results suggest that multifaceted de-implementation strategies may be required to reduce unneeded LS-MRI.

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