Surgery for herniated lumbar disc in private vs public hospitals: A pragmatic comparative effectiveness study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionActa Neurochirurgica. 2020, 162 (3), 703-711. 10.1007/s00701-019-04195-7
Background There is limited evidence on the comparative performance of private and public healthcare. Our aim was to compare outcomes following surgery for lumbar disc herniation (LDH) in private versus public hospitals. Methods Data were obtained from the Norwegian registry for spine surgery. Primary outcome was change in Oswestry disability index (ODI) 1 year after surgery. Secondary endpoints were quality of life (EuroQol EQ-5D), back and leg pain, complications, and duration of surgery and hospital stays. Results Among 5221 patients, 1728 in the private group and 3493 in the public group, 3624 (69.4%) completed 1-year followup. In the private group, mean improvement in ODI was 28.8 points vs 32.3 points in the public group (mean difference − 3.5, 95% CI − 5.0 to − 1.9; P for equivalence < 0.001). Equivalence was confirmed in a propensity-matched cohort and following mixed linear model analyses. There were differences in mean change between the groups for EQ-5D (mean difference − 0.05, 95% CI − 0.08 to − 0.02; P = 0.002) and back pain (mean difference − 0.2, 95% CI − 0.2, − 0.4 to − 0.004; P = 0.046), but after propensity matching, the groups did not differ. No difference was found between the two groups for leg pain. Complication rates was lower in the private group (4.5% vs 7.2%; P < 0.001), but after propensity matching, there was no difference. Patients operated in private clinics had shorter duration of surgery (48.4 vs 61.8 min) and hospital stay (0.7 vs 2.2 days). Conclusion At 1 year, the effectiveness of surgery for LDH was equivalent in private and public hospitals.