Psychiatric comorbidity in chronic disabling occupational spinal disorders has minimal impact on functional restoration socioeconomic outcomes

Jeffrey Dersh, Tom Mayer, Robert J. Gatchel, Ben Towns, Brian Theodore, Peter Polatin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN. A prospective study conducted at a tertiary functional restoration center for patients with chronic disabling occupational spinal disorders (CDOSDs), comparing treatment outcome status 1-year posttreatment of patients with specific diagnosed psychiatric disorders to those without. OBJECTIVE. To evaluate if diagnosed psychopathology is a significant limiting factor in the successful interdisciplinary rehabilitation of CDOSD patients. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA. Research has demonstrated high prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders in patients with CDOSDs. Little is known about whether these disorders are associated with less successful treatment outcomes. METHODS. A consecutive group of CDOSD patients (n = 1323) averaging 19 months of prerehabilitation disability were evaluated for psychiatric disorders with the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Patients participated in a functional restoration program. A structured clinical interview addressing work status, recurrent injury, healthcare utilization, and financial claims closure was administered 1 year after discharge. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine the unique contribution of the specific DSM-IV disorders that were significantly associated with the outcomes. RESULTS. Patients with panic disorder, antisocial personality disorder (PD) and dependent PD were >2 times more likely to be program noncompleters. For successful program completers, those with opioid dependence disorder (ODD) were 2.7 times less likely to return to work and 2.6 times less likely to retain work. Patients with ODD were also 2.1 times more likely to seek postrehabilitation treatment from a new provider. CONCLUSIONS. Despite intensive management of psychiatric disorders during interdisciplinary functional restoration for CDOSD, several disorders were found to be associated with less successful outcomes. Poorer work outcomes were more common with specific (and comorbid) Axis I psychiatric disorders. Opioid dependence was the single disorder associated most often with less successful outcomes. Despite these findings, the large majority of patients demonstrated successful outcomes. Depression did not independently link to less successful outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1917-1925
Number of pages9
Issue number17
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Chronic pain
  • Cognitive-behavioral treatment
  • Comorbidity
  • Disability management
  • Exercise
  • Functional restoration
  • Occupational spinal disorders
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Psychopathology
  • Risk factors
  • Work-related injuries


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