Date of Conferral





Health Services


Clarence J. Schumaker


Low back syndrome affects 20% of people, and it is estimated that 30% of patients are unable to return to work after surgery. The monitoring of health care outcomes could improve the delivery of health services. The health performance conceptual framework, derived from the Donabedian model, was used to evaluate the functional outcome, clinical recovery, response to surgery, and physician performance of the surgical management of lumbar spine degeneration. A quantitative study (n=685) was undertaken using an administrative database in a repeated-measures design. The clinical and functional outcome improvements were analyzed using t tests. Surgical complexity on health outcome was examined with ANOVA. Predictors of patient satisfaction was explored using Pearson's correlation and regression analyses. The results demonstrated highly significant improvements in functional (mean change 30%; ODI=16.79 -± SD 19.92) and clinical recovery (mean change 50%; modified-JOA=6.983 -± SD 2.613) with surgery at 3 months; a >50% positive response to surgery; and a > 90% patient satisfaction, sustained over a 2 year period. Complexity of surgery did not impact health performance. Strong correlations between the health performance metrics were detected up to 6-months from surgery. Poor clinical recovery and persistent functional disability were predictive of patient dissatisfaction. The social change implications for health policy are that a constellation of health performance metrics could predict the potential for functional and clinical recovery based on presurgery disability while avoiding medical expenditures for procedures with no health benefit; aid in health quality monitoring, peer comparisons, revision of practice guidelines, and cost benefit analysis by payers.