Alexander Chye, Chung-Wei Christine Lin, Mark J. Hancock, Ian Harris, Jane Latimer, Christopher G. Maher, Andrew J. McLachlan, Stephanie Mathieson, Bart Koes, Richard O. Day, Laurent Billot, Stephen Jan, Blake Angell

April 2021, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 878 - 885 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-020-06605-2

First Online: 24 September 2020


To estimate the healthcare resource utilisation of an Australian cohort of people with sciatica and explore individual-level factors associated with expenditure.


Healthcare utilisation (services and medication) data from a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of pregabalin in patients with sciatica (n = 185) were analysed to estimate healthcare expenditure of participants over 12 months. Associations between key baseline socio-economic, pain and quality of life characteristics and healthcare expenditure were examined using generalised linear imputation models.


On average, participants accessed AUD$1,134 of healthcare over the year, predominantly made up of $114 of medication and $914 of health services, which included $418 of physiotherapy services. Participants randomised to receive pregabalin incurred higher expenditure ($1,263 compared to $1,001 for placebo), which was largely driven by pregabalin ($158) and greater health services ($107). Healthcare expenditure was significantly higher for participants prescribed pregabalin, earning greater than $1,700 per week ($88,400 per year) and reporting poorer quality of life (physical and mental).


Our results suggest inefficiency in the use of healthcare resources due to increased healthcare resource utilisation in people with sciatica treated with pregabalin, compared to placebo. Costs of treating sciatica varied based on individual quality of life and socio-economic characteristics.

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